The black in Black Friday…

What started out as “the busiest shopping day of the year” when I was growing up has morphed into a phenomenon.  Stores opening earlier and earlier…shoppers standing in lines for hours upon hours…people planning and pining for the biggest and best deals on what retailers claim is the first day of each year in which they actually move from the red to the black on the balance sheet offering sales better than anything they profess to offer at any other time.  Is it really true?  Are the deals really worth the hassle?  Do retailers really not turn a profit until this point in the fiscal year?  I’m not completely sold.

You would think I would be first in line to shop, right?  I’ve seen the black in Black Friday.  I remember in my retail days one year in particular suffering from the agonizing pain of a kidney stone yet unable to get the care I desperately needed because I would risk my losing my job by leaving on our biggest sales day of the year.  How dare I even think I could leave?  It was imperative I be on my game…after all I was being treated to fettuccine alfredo and bread sticks from Olive Garden…that I couldn’t bear to eat…on the store’s dime!  The least I could do as the top salesperson was put on a happy face and sell even half what I normally do.  We treat today as a national holiday…to some an even bigger day than Thanksgiving or Christmas themselves.  The hype was huge…all that reigned was the almighty dollar.  From then on the illusion of getting a good deal was spoiled in my mind  by greed.  We were using the holidays to make money…not caring about anything but the bottom line.  If we think Black Friday is about anything else…perhaps we’re fooling ourselves.

Some people love the thrill of a good deal.  Don’t get me wrong…I love myself a good deal.  But standing in line for hours…fighting my fellow shoppers for a single item…getting practically trampled to grasp it in my hands…not my idea of even close to worth it.  Again…some love the adreneline…and I admire their energy…my body simply cannot withstand it these days.  But…why are we doing this?  All I could see when I worked in retail was in fact black…selfishness…from both sides of the register…which left a bad taste in my mouth for this day we seem to celebrate with our checkbooks and credit cards forgetting the Reason…ironically the furthest thing from black or selfish…we even celebrate this season in the first place.

This year I’ve really been convicted to take a look at the things I’ve just accepted as reality and analyze how they really influence what I believe.  Do we need to shop the day after Thanksgiving to prepare for Christmas?  Does preparing for Christmas involve dollars and cents…or is that just a way to defer what we really need to invest in?  Does celebrating Jesus birth and the incredible significance of Him becoming flesh…Immanuel…God with us…have to be associated with chaos and lines and deals?  Again…I’m not completely convinced.  My heart…which He has so intimately turned and healed and renewed this past year…tells me otherwise.

Whomever coined the phrase Black Friday is laughing!  I don’t buy it for a second to which I stayed in last night cuddled on the couch next to the fire and got a full nights rest which my body requires to function.  I thought perhaps it might be worth the pain looking through the ads and circulars but nothing particular caught my eye as my aches and pains seemed to grow and grow.  Today instead the kiddos and I decorated our house for Christmas celebrating Jesus birth and thankfully didn’t go anywhere.  I hear many of those who faced the crowds, stood in lines and withstood the chaos found their efforts worthwhile and maybe someday it will make sense…or cents…for me to as well?  I just don’t feel led to give into it this year.  I’m just not sold. This year I think God has something greater in store for me….something greater than any store can offer.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).   Matthew 1:23

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