A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Is Black Friday a Sign of Ingratitude?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Today is Black Friday, the day when the Christmas shopping season officially begins.

When I was a boy, I remember that the Christmas season did not officially begin until the day after Thanksgiving. Nobody put up Christmas trees or any other Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. Most of the month of November was reserved for Thanksgiving Day preparations.

But something happened along the way—the season of Christmas slowly began to start earlier. It started with the retail establishments that began shelving Christmas decorations and items earlier. For several years now, stores have their Black Friday sales the day after Thanksgiving where people run and push and shove each to get some great deals that the stores purposely sell in short supply. Most will not get what they want, but they will get something to be sure. Now, some stores already opened their doors late yesterday on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on their competitors.

This early Christmas shopping over the years has led to people decorating their houses and putting up their Christmas trees earlier and earlier. Municipalities are doing the same. Some radio stations are now playing nonstop Christmas music two weeks before Thanksgiving. It seems now that we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday each year amid the glitter and the lights of Christmas. Thanksgiving is now a kind of appendix celebration, an afterthought—it appears that Thanksgiving has been eclipsed.

I want to suggest  that part of the eclipsing of Thanksgiving in American culture may be the result of a lack of thankfulness on our part. I know some may chafe a little at that suggestion, but I think it is a proposal worth some consideration.

I’d like to think we have gathered on Thanksgiving because we are indeed grateful people, content with our blessings, and praying and seeking ways that we take what we have received in order to bless others.

Now let me say clearly that I love the Christmas holiday. I enjoy the lights and the festivities and I think it is a wonderful practice of giving gifts to family and friends. I suppose there are those who go overboard in that respect, but all good things can be overdone. And I also know that those who brave the melee of Black Friday are there to get gifts for others. But what concerns me is that we have unwittingly created a context where saving a buck reveals our lack of gratitude for our current blessings in a society that already has been blessed with more than most other nations on earth. And, yes, I know that many people are hurting financially as we enter another holiday season, but should we not ask as those who have more than enough in the way of stuff, whether gratitude should lead to contentment rather than pushing and shoving and racing to acquire more before those around us take what we want? St. Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned to be content in all situations—“I have had plenty and I have been in want, he says.” Paul’s words to the Philippians are set in the context of gratitude as well.

Thanksgiving is that time.

Christmas can wait; Thanksgiving is necessary.


Danny G said...

I'll try not to sound too much like Andy Rooney (rip), but a lot of this "early" decoration, etc. goes back to the artificial trees, greens, wreaths, etc. growing up in northern New England in the 60's and 70's we had real trees (Dad and I would spot one and mark it during Deer season) and real greens and wreaths made from real pine, princess pine, etc. these had a limited lifetime, 2-3 wks at best with good care. Mom crafted a lot of our decorations, and they took time to make. So Christmas developed slowly, as some things came out of storage and as we gathered and made the other decorations. Now pre-lit plastic trees, pre-decorated wreaths, etc. One can decorate almost instantly, then all you have left to do is shop. If that is your focus, that is.

Allan R. Bevere said...


You and Andy make an excellent observation. Thanks!