Christmas sales and holiday trappings have been littering the stores since before HALLOWEEN this year. Every year they start earlier and earlier. Images of Santa and Rudolph have been assaulting my eyes for a month already, and I've barely finished digesting my Thanksgiving day turkey dinner.
Black Friday. The term started being used for the day after Thanksgiving in 1966 in Philadelphia, and it was used to describe the huge amounts of traffic on the roads and the sidewalks as holiday shopping began, since so many people have the day after Thanksgiving off from work. By 1975 the term was being used in the rest of the country and it started to mean something else - the day that retailers could count on to be IN THE BLACK because profits were rampant that day.
I wonder when the first holiday shopper was trampled by someone rushing in to purchase a gift that would later be given to someone else in celebration of the birth of our Savior.
Stores started by offering sales and deep discounts on WOW items. Then they started opening earlier than usual. Now some of them open at midnight so folks can push and shove and overspend all night long. Unemployment is at an all-time high, foreclosures have sky-rocketed, every other commercial on TV is for some bankruptcy lawyer and yet.... the stores are mobbed on Black Friday.
Oh, and this morning I saw a piece on the news about a car bomber in Oregon who was trying to blow up a Christmas Tree lighting in Portland. Ho-Ho-Ho!!!
The news was populated this morning with further holiday horrors.... there was a florist on our local news segment showing ways to decorate Christmas trees. She suggested CASH. Yes, take those bills and make little fans out of them and then just stick them on the tree. After all, nothing heralds the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ like cold hard cash.
I want to say right here and now that I have NEVER been in a store on Black Friday other than maybe a grocery store or a pharmacy. And I never plan to be. Even when money was abundant I did my Christmas shopping online and had UPS deliver the packages to my door. Most of them were presented to the intended recipients still wrapped in brown with shipping labels still affixed. The last few years the gifting has dropped off entirely, and now only a small handful of kids are on the list to receive anything. The commercialization of this holiday, which was supposed to be a holy-day makes my stomach turn and my heart hurt. At the same time the true meaning of the holiday has lifted my spirit more and more as the last few years have passed, and it's come to mean a great deal more to me now than it ever did when there were lots of packages and presents flying about the house.
Christmas isn't a holiday about what gifts we receive from other people. It's a holiday about the greatest gift humanity ever received.... and it wasn't purchased at Walmart on Black Friday.