Black Friday—a day on which the retail industry hangs its hopes for highest sales and profits for the year, and which kicks off the Christmas holiday buying season.
Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving, on which millions of otherwise sane people will get up in the wee hours of the morning and drive to various shopping centers in search of outlandish bargains, often risking life and limb just to get the latest “must-have” gadget or toy.
In the days preceding this annual retail extravaganza, newspapers will be stuffed with a myriad of advertisements for just about anything one can imagine, enticing us to buy, buy, buy, whether we or our loved ones really need those things or not. The pressure is on to buy the perfect gift(s) at the perfect price. Buy, buy, buy…..with all those sales saving you big bucks, you can buy even more, and after all, that is what the season is all about, right?
Succumbing to this pressure to obtain the best possible deal on a given item, there are thousands of normally sane people who actually camp out in front of their store of choice hours, even days, in advance of the actual Black Friday shopping spree date; there was a report on a local news station tonight of a Florida couple who have been camping in front of their local Best Buy since last Wednesday, for Pete’s sake. What possesses people to go to such extremes in order to get a bargain on some “must-have” item(s)? Do they not have jobs, or do they save up their vacation time to squander on such nonsense? Or do they maybe switch off day by day—one stays put in front of the store while the other puts in their eight hours, and they switch places the next day? I don’t understand why anyone would go to such lengths. I am all for saving a few bucks whenever the opportunity comes up, but this seems a bit ridiculous.
Black Friday holds no appeal for me, personally. I am not about to get up in the middle of the night and venture out to fight the crowds in search of the “perfect gift” at a bargain price. After seeing news video of past Black Friday incidents of people being pushed, shoved, and trampled for the sake of getting some hot item, that just further convinced me that people have lost the meaning of what the season is really all about, and I want no part of that.
It is very sad that Christmas has been so crassly commercialized. Yes, it is a season of giving, of reaching out to our friends and loved ones, and sharing gifts is a part of that. But we have gone so overboard on the material aspect of it that the spiritual aspect has been all but lost. Corporate greed for profits pushes us to spend what we really don’t have on things we really don’t need, and in the end we find ourselves in debt and possessing things that eventually just end up as so much clutter in our lives.
Instead of giving in to the pressure to spend so much on things, shouldn’t we focus more on giving of our time and our talents to those we love and care for? Giving of ourselves means more than buying some material thing that eventually wears out and ends up in the trash or going to Goodwill. Making special memories over the holidays with friends and loved ones will have much more meaning as the years go by than buying the latest, trendiest thing that we are told we “must” have in order to be truly happy (who really remembers what they got for Christmas a year, two years, ten years down the road?). And the giving should be a year-round thing, not just during the holiday season.
Black Friday puts the focus on material possessions, keeping up with the Joneses, and often puts people in a financial bind (in spite of all those great bargains). How much less stressful would it be to instead simplify and cut our spending down to buying only a couple of things our loved ones truly need or would really enjoy, giving resources that would go into buying more “stuff” to helping those less fortunate instead, and putting the focus on giving more of our time and talents to enrich the lives of others? Love is really spelled out as T-I-M-E, not T-H-I-N-G-S, after all.
And last but definitely not least, remember the real reason for celebrating the Christmas season; it is about God’s gift of love to us, His Son, who provided the way for us to be reconciled to our Creator and have relationship with Him. That should be the center of our celebrating the season, not what we can get for others or hope to get for ourselves.
Black Friday is really all about money—people spending money they may or may not have on things their loved ones don’t necessarily need or even want, and corporations making money. It’s about working people up into a spending frenzy and enticing them with outlandish deals at odd hours of the night….. and to me that cheapens and takes away from the Christmas spirit.
Venture out in the dead of night if you feel you must, but I’m going to stay tucked in my warm bed and do whatever shopping I’ll do at a sane hour, thank you very much!