Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Three Ideas for Black Friday

It feels like Thanksgiving is diminishing. More like being crowded out. Most of the pumpkin and straw-man decorations available in department stores are for Halloween, and they’re quickly transferred to the clearance shelves as soon as November 1 arrives to make away for more Christmas merchandise. Wreaths, lights and holly are all set up in the city streets before Thanksgiving can have its day. Now, it seems Thanksgiving is getting the shorter end of the proverbial stick as Black Friday sales can’t wait for midnight on their namesake day to open the store doors anymore. They’re creeping into Thanksgiving Day itself, competing for our business and tempting us with low prices, should we be willing to potentially jettison what some utilize as rare time together as extended family.

Now, I’m not going to argue for traditional Thanksgiving celebration and a boycott of Black Friday. But here’s a few ideas for Black Friday madness:

1. Don’t forget Thanksgiving. It’s an attitude we should strive for year-round, but let’s not ignore the annual reminder. Make time for your family. Don’t use your Black Friday shopping schedule to avoid, for example, a family movie night or the conversation where you need to reconcile with a relative. 

2. Check your motives and your aura. It can be seen as seriously seen as hypocritical to celebrate a holiday of thankfulness, only to show passion and aggression in an arena of materialism the next day. Why do you go to Black Friday sales? Are they needed (or wanted) gifts for others? As a shopper, do you have an aura of clamoring desperation or contentment and mild curiosity? Do you really need these products and prices? How much are you getting suckered in by the hype?

3. Be creatively ministerial. Some Christians, for example, rather than shut down their house and boycott trick-or-treating, have found creative ways to utilize the once-a-year opportunity to engage their neighborhood with the light of Christ. We have similar opportunities on Black Friday when we’ll be in long, long lines. Make conversation with people. Maybe even hand out bottled water, food or hot cocoa to the exhausted waiting customers. When you’re inside the store, be a peacemaker among scrambling shoppers. Encourage the overwhelmed and even traumatized store employees. You could also do your Black Friday shopping at ethical businesses and charities.

I’m not wholly against a Christian attending a Black Friday sale, as long as they think of such ideas and consider the true cost. When you miss opportunities to be with your family and several hours of sleep, coming off like an unthankful, selfish and desperately materialistic lemming with frostbitten fingers (from waiting in line for so long), is 50% off really worth it?