You probably know this: Black Friday deals are spilling over into Thursday now, with those endlessly deep discounts starting before consumers even have time to digest their turkey and take that tryptophan nap.
What’s more, these “deals” aren’t even really focused on getting and giving to other people anymore. Need a new big screen? Now is the time. Have an iPad but really, really want an iPad mini? Now is the time.
Cynical me, I am starting to refer to this black Friday spill-over as “bruised Thanksgiving.”
So where are you in this mess of chaos and acquiring of stuff? Do you pause enough to let Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving? Do you pause enough to really, truly give thanks? Do you pause to think about those things that seem so easy to come by, the many blessings you may take for granted? A washing machine. A car with gas in it. Heat. Blankets on your bed. A loving and healthy relationship with your children/mother/father/fill-in-the-blank.
Growing up, Black Friday was one of my favorite days of the year. I lay in bed Thanksgiving night thinking about the Christmas list I had stashed in my purse and the five-hour drive we would make to Salt Lake City the following day for a fun-filled weekend Christmas shopping. Maybe I had $100 to spend, and with that money I would buy gifts for my whole family.
Black Friday shopping isn’t what it used to be. Our noisy, me-centered society threatens to drown out the true giving spirit of the holidays.
Every year I re-visit this dialogue with myself: I will NOT let my society’s view of Black Friday dampen my Christmas shopping spirit. Christmas shopping, to me, will still be fun, other-centered, a crazy adventure. Because we are coming into the season of giving, and if you’re not giving with a pure heart, you’re not really giving much at all.
Right now I am mentoring a teenage girl on a big writing project. She is 18, and she’s grown up too fast, having to play both big sister and mother two her two younger siblings because her parents are never home. Her dad buys her stuff – lots of really good stuff from what I gather – but she doesn’t really care.
“All I want is a relationship with him,” she told me. “I just want a relationship with my dad.”
Think about it. What is the best gift you have ever been given? I’ll tell you, point blank: It’s Jesus. God sent his only son to us, and allowed him to be killed on a cross to pardon all of our sins. The gift of His love, His provision, His forgiveness, is there for the taking. All you have to do is say, “Yes.”
Christians mark the Christmas season as the celebration of the birth of this best-ever gift. Is it coincidence that a tradition of gift-giving to others centers around this holiday?
This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to spend quality time in thanks for the intangibles. You can be thankful for your washing machine and your big-screen, too. Just please don’t buy a new one on Thursday at 5 p.m.