Thursday, November 24, 2011
In the retail world, the Friday following Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday. On Black Friday, retailers across the nation move from "in the red" to "in the black" as the American public begin the annual buying and spending frenzy that precedes Christmas and culminates only after the final Year End Clearance.
More than anything else, Black Friday has come to symbolize excess -- excess consumerism, excess spending, and excess debt as people with more money than good sense rush to obtain the latest and greatest electronic gizmo or toy that they can't really afford. As it has come to symbolize excess, Black Friday has come also to symbolize extremes -- extreme merchandising, extreme retail hours, and extreme crowds of shoppers competing for one or two extreme bargains. People are regularly injured, crushed, and trampled in the press and crush of bargain-crazed shoppers. And the season of peace on earth among men of good will and of good will itself gets trampled beneath the feet of "Gotta have it, gotta have it, gotta have it NOW!"
I refuse to participate in Black Friday. I willingly forgo the supposed joy of competing for bargains with an army of rude and impatient people. Instead, I plan to spend the day at home where the only competition will be with family over who can make the best turkey sandwich and my worst excess will involve the consumption of at least one such culinary masterpiece.
I refuse to participate in the frenzy of excessive spending that is now part of the season. Instead, I will do what I can to stimulate the only economy that counts -- my family economy -- by paying cash and remaining debt free. I do not want to spend my next six months paying for my own excesses and lapses in judgement.
For me, shopping is less a sport than it is a necessary evil. Nevertheless I will shop. However, rather than a frenzied search for the latest and greatest bargain from China, I will conduct a careful and diligent search for the perfect gift for everyone on my list. I am confident that these items are out there waiting for me. I accept the challenge of finding them. Many of them, like the items pictured above, will be locally produced, and will benefit some worthy cause. I wish to send as few as possible of my hard earned Washingtons, Hamiltons, and Benjamins overseas.
And finally, I will seek to bear in mind that Christmas is not about shopping, or getting presents, or even the lights and the tree and the food but about celebrating the birth of He who is the prince of peace and acting out the vision of peace on earth and good will to men.
How will you spend your Black Friday?
How will you act out the vision of peace and good will this year?