What to do with Black Friday?

For the beauty of the Earth,

For the glory of the skies,

For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise,
This our grateful hymn of praise.

John Rutter Version



Thanksgiving seems to be a favorite holiday for so many people these days. It is generally a time spent with family and friends, celebrating the many gifts we have received in this wonderful country. God is indeed good to us as a whole, and it was good to gather with friends yesterday to recognize that. We are blessed to so often have our biggest worry being whether we really needed that second helping of mashed potatoes or that second piece of pie.

And today we observe another uniquely American holiday – Black Friday. This day has gained its own identity over the years as the US economy has evolved first from one that grows things to one that builds things, and over the past 30 years or so, to one that sells things. Now the largest shares of the jobs in our country are in providing services to each other or in selling things. Retail and service jobs are what are available to most of our kids and increasing numbers of retirees and displaced workers these days. And businesses need strong sales over the next 30 days if we are going to continue to recover from the recession.

We are conflicted about this, both collectively and personally. Collectively, we are sad when we see the Black Friday sales pushing earlier and earlier, with many stores opening on Thanksgiving. We are sad for the people who have to leave their families to go to work. We cheer for the Pizza Hut manager who refuses to implement the corporate directive to open on Thanksgiving and insists on giving his employees the full day off. We commiserate with the grocery store clerks who have to work until 6:00 on Thanksgiving so that we can run out for our last minute needs. We want everyone to have the same opportunity to gather with family and friends to give thanks that we have. We provide baskets of food for families from Paris Elementary School who might not be able to experience the bounty otherwise.

And personally, some of us have already been shopping for bargains today. As incomes remain flat for most Americans, we have to save where we can as we want to be generous to our families at Christmas. If you braved the crowds, I hope you got something good! Clearly, we have been hearing about all the bargains for weeks, not only from the retailers themselves but from the press which seems to see Black Friday as a bigger story than Thanksgiving. But in our shopping, in our doing our part for the American economy, my prayer is that our focus is able to remain on the people for whom we are shopping – on the family and friends who were the focus of our Thanksgiving yesterday. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on earth and friends above;
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

Dave Erickson-Pearson

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