For years I have decried the practice of the early morning sales hysteria on the day typically called Black Friday. Although black Friday has been called such for as long as I can remember, there was a day when black Friday was more like rosey Friday. As a child, I remember when black Friday was a wonderful day. People were happy, cheerful, and polite as they shopped. They weren't in a hurry. They stopped and enjoyed every decoration in every window. They chatted gleefully as they walked down the sidewalk(this was before there were malls) and gladly held the door so that others could enter before them.
Our family tradition was that we would all sleep over at Grandma's house on Thanksgiving night and rise early in the morning for a big breakfast. Then we would walk in the chilly morning air to the square of the small village where she lived and catch the bus to the nearest town. I remember how exciting it was to sit sideways on the bus and to chat with the people who obviously did not find riding public transportation as exciting as we did. For us, it surely beat being strapped into the back of a station wagon, parking 6 blocks away, and having to walk to the main street in the freezing cold. The bus dropped us right in the heart of the shopping district and we barely noticed the cold because there was so much else to observe.
The first highlight of the day was pulling into the public square of the town where we would be shopping. It was always heavily decorated with lights, greens, shimmering snowflakes, and giant Christmas balls that swayed in the wind. As we walked the streets along the lines of department stores, each window was decorated with elaborate decorations that beckoned you with waving hands, animated animals, blinking lights and the promise of a closer look if you would just come inside.
At lunchtime, we would all climb up to the counter of McCrory's Department Store and have soup, sandwiches, and soda pop. After lunch, we would shop for Grandmas' Christmas dress, the dress she would wear to the Christmas Eve service at the church we attended and the dress that was almost always a victim of the candlelight service. No, we never managed to set Grandma on fire, but we always trashed her dress with candle wax.
Of course, Grandma always bought each of us a special "something" that we would pick out along the course of our travels. By 3:00, we were completely worn out, so we would sit at the corner drug store and sip milkshakes as we waited on the bus that would carry us home again.
These memories are a far cry from camping out in parking lots in the freezing cold to buy the biggest and best gift, from stampeding into stores like a herd of crazed cattle, sending 8 month pregnant women to the hospital, from trampling children in an effort to buy the latest doll, and from callously trampling employees of the store to death, which was one person's poor misfortune this year.
Even if black Friday brought the retailers out of the red and into the black, this day will forever be stained with the blood of this man's life and the numerous bloody noses, bruises, harsh words, and unChristlike actions. What a travesty that the first day of the celebration of the King of Peace's coming is so filled with greed, lust, hate, violence and yes, even murder. How saddened His heart must be to watch as the incarnation is lost in a sea of carnal commercialism.
How far from the simple, holy manger we have come.
How far from the simplistic worship of the greatest gift ever given we have wandered, even to the point that we now try to remove His very name from the celebration and deny that He has anything to do what we are celebrating.
I'm not against a good deal or even an extravogant gift. I love giving gifts and would do much more than I currently do if I had the means. But if the gift cannot be given with a clear conscience, what good is it? If the gift cannot be bought with the greatest gift ever given in mind, to me, it violates the whole reason for the season.
A man was trapped under a glass door that was pushed off it's hinges by a mad crowd. And while he lay under the weight of the door and people rushing to buy the latest piece of technology, he was crushed and suffocated to death. Then, when the store announced that it would be closing because a man had died from the stampede of mindless, heartless people, they were mad that they had to leave the store without what they had just killed to obtain. Maybe I'm not so crazy for avoiding it afterall.
Where were the thoughts of the man's family who now have to deal with his death and funeral at Christmas time? Where was the concern that children were just left fatherless because of their greed? Where was the pity and remorse for the widow now left to make a living and raise her children alone because they wanted the newest piece of technology? What a waste!
Sadly, that technology will be obsolete before it is even opened on Christmas day.
Yes, Black Friday was truly BLACK indeed! May God forgive us and wake us up before it's too late.