Are you one of those people that can’t wait for the day after Thanksgiving to do your best to boost the American economy through your pursuit of great bargains on the so-called “Black Friday”?
Happily, this year you don’t have to wait. Many retail institutions have kindly agreed to open their doors early. Not even in the wee hours of Friday morning, but Thursday evening, while remnants of the turkey-basted holiday still lie scattered on tables and kitchen counters across the USA. Don’t you just love this country?
Doze-inducing tryptophan is still coursing through our veins; some of the Thanksgiving Day football games haven’t even kicked off yet; helium still holds some of the holiday parade balloons aloft, and we have an early opportunity to engage in that great American holiday – spending money we don’t have to buy gifts for people we don’t even like that much, to give them things they don’t really need.
But that’s what America, capitalism and conspicuous consumption are all about right? Especially at Christmas.
I’ll never forget President George W. Bush’s cautionary closing words when he spoke the day following the events of 9/11: “Don’t stop shopping.” He understood, of course, our national economy is based on our propensity for buying stuff, satisfying our wants as well as our needs. That holds true even in times of frivolity and celebration. If we all suddenly decided to take a spending sabbatical, even a week or two, it would usher in economic chaos.
So if you hear the siren song of the mall around 6 p.m. or so on Thanksgiving Day, don’t feel guilty if you feel compelled to rush right over and take out your credit cards – or cash, if you’re into that kind of thing – and spend, spend, spend to save. You’ll be a true patriot, giving the U.S. economy a much-needed shot in the arm. Don’t even think of it as Thanksgiving Day – rather, in deference to Black Friday, call it Charcoal Thursday. (Especially if you managed to overcook the turkey a bit.)
But while you’re doing that, consider the advice Jesus gave to followers and curiosity seekers while delivering His sermon on the mount:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, whether moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Don’t let me Scrooge all over your very early Christmas preparations. I’ll admit to enjoying the seasonal gift exchange tradition myself. But while we’re singing about having ourselves a merry little Christmas and roasting chestnuts over an open fire, it’s never too early to start remembering the real reason for the season.