This past Black Friday weekend, shoppers spent approximately $50.9 billion dollars, which does not include items purchased online. For shoppers, Black Friday is full of sales. For retailers, Black Friday means making as much money as they can. To me, Black Friday is a day money is worshiped, materialism is rampant and the Spirit of Christmas is repeatedly raped by greed. I thought ‘Thanksgiving’ meant giving thanks, displaying gratitude, spending time with family. I thought ‘Christmas’ meant celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. What happened?
Let me tell you a short story…for the last three years, the company I work for has set up a program from the middle of November to the end of December, where each department chooses one to two charities where items can be collected and donated or where employees volunteer their time. It is a program that really puts the ‘SPIRIT’ back into Christmas. Right before we embark on our Christmas break, all employees get together to share about what they did to give back. It is not only heartwarming but also a beautiful reminder of what this season is really meant to be.
Last year, a family was adopted by one of the departments. And do you know what they asked for? Not toys. Not the latest, fanciest, techno gadgets. Not big screen T.V.s. They asked for not only clothes and food but also two items most of us could not live without, take for granted and use everyday. The two items? Toilet paper and paper towels. That is right…TOILET PAPER and PAPER TOWELS!!!!!!!!! I could not believe a family could be so impoverished they could not afford to buy toilet paper. How could that be?!?!?
And yet, $50.9 billion was spent in 4 days. I wonder what would happen if instead of Black Friday, it got changed to Giving Friday. Maybe, just maybe, poverty would be erased and everyone would live in a home, have enough food to eat at least three hearty meals a day, have enough clean water to drink and bathe in and be able to afford simple necessities such as toilet paper. Can you imagine how different the world would be?
Alas, I guess I best just pinch myself awake, because as long as retailers continue to preach the gospel of buy, buy, buy, and money continues to wield power, greed will continue to thrive. And, God will continue to cry.