Saturday, November 30, 2013

Because Jesus Wants You to Have That Discounted TV

Nothing makes me think of the New Testament and the birth of Jesus, which some bumper stickers self-righteously claim is the "Reason for the Season", than a Wall Street Journal headline "On Day of Frenzy at the Mall, The Real Fight is Online". "Frenzy" and "fight" - I know those two words make me think of the holidays. I'm imagining a very pregnant Mary screaming at her iPad because her swollen fingers are not nimble enough to snag that deal on the super cute sweater she had her eye on. Or rolling up to a WalMart on her donkey, hopping off and elbowing her way through the crowd, perhaps hollering profanities and violent threats to angry shoppers, keeping her eye on that flat screen TV on sale for the next two hours. I'm sure Joseph might have sucker punched anyone who got in Mary's way and God is kicking back in his La-Z-Boy recliner up in Heaven, nodding in approval because this is pretty much why he sent his Son to earth so we humans could horde discounts at WalMart where employees can't get decent health benefits or livable wages. 

So here's my proposal (albeit perhaps a day late) how about we all put down the consumerism Kool-Aid or hop off the crazy capitalism train or whatever analogy you choose, and get a grip on the holidays. A local station ran a WalMart (sorry - I can't seem to get away from WalMart and it's really too easy) commercial during every break in the football games to let shoppers know that they didn't miss Black Friday. It was Thursday. My sons looked at each other and shook their heads. It made no sense. Plus, it was Thanksgiving and I can not recall so much push to get people out to the malls and online before we even get to the left-overs. Did I mention it was still Thanksgiving Day? 

At the risk of sounding a bit preachy, I'm going to suggest that we've completely lost our senses and need to refocus. I understand that not everyone who celebrates Christmas claims to believe that God even exists or the birth of Christ or all that sub-plot to the holiday, but at least we were once sane about gift giving and maintained a focus on family and tradition. I worry that we have totally - not just a little or more than a little - lost the point of Christmas. Does everyone need to be at midnight mass on December 24th? No - not the point. However, equating Black Friday and gift giving for Christmas is incredibly flawed. And trust me, the stores know how much they need to charge to still make a healthy profit and charity and goodwill is not part of that formula.

We I need to simplify. At one time, Christmas was about decorating the tree together, making cookies or candies as gifts, looking forward to family visiting. We didn’t need the madness and stress of shopping the day after Thanksgiving, which is ironically the day we are thinking about all we cherish but let’s not let that get in the way. Many friends refused to shop on Black Friday and I respect that. I would take it a step further. How about we downshift. Instead of 5 gifts for a kid, 3 gifts and 2 for Toys for Tots. I truly believe we need a shift back to what used to make the holidays special and it wasn't about frenzy and fighting and online shopping.       

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