It's called that for a reason-Black Friday darkens the soul of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving, which is a holiday to remember and reflect on God's blessings is followed by a ritual that turns normal, respectable people into something resembling Lord of the Flies.
Disgust. Embarrassment. Anger. Disappointment. Sadness.
These are some of the emotions that I experience every year when I see people on the evening news as they are filmed piling into the stores early Friday morning (now for some stores it has even become Thursday evening!!). All week before Thanksgiving, I see the hype. I can't ignore the television commercials that tell everyone that we need to wake up early Friday morning to take advantage of the unprecedented savings. "Run, don't walk!" is the mantra of every television commercial and newspaper insert. If I hurry, stores will happily open as early as 4am so that I can take advantage of buying their cheap crap now.
What continues to amaze me is that this ritual gets bigger and bigger every year. Every year the local news camera's get in place to capture all the action. Reporters are sent to the stores. It becomes a big party, the stores stoke a carnival-like atmosphere.
But nothing changes, I see the same thing every year -people pushing, running and screaming. People pushing over their fellow man in order to save $100 on a big screen T.V, or $50 on the latest computer gadget or 1/2 off the latest gaming console. Sure the savings are good, But at what cost?
Here, I believe, are a couple of the costs:
People sacrifice their time. Thanksgiving is a time for family. It is a time for reflection and giving thanks. Thanksgiving is a time to look beyond one's self and give thanks to God, our wonderful creator and source of all blessings. In contrast, Black Friday is all about self.
Many of these sales demand that if you want to save you have to be there as early as 4am. (or even get there on Thanksgiving!). But, then of course, you need to get there even earlier in order to secure your place in line. People sacrifice their sleep. They take time away from their families and from their homes. Family members split up to divide and conquer in order to maximize the amount of stores they can visit. Some families approach this shopping day with more planning and preparation than the Allies did for D-Day.
People sacrifice their dignity. Every year I feel the craziness and energy come through the television as I watch people shove and squeeze their way through the small, narrow portal doors of large department stores. People get worked up into a feeding frenzy. All social considerations are thrown out the window. No more is it women and children first, rather it is every man for himself.
Other people are to be seen as important and valuable and to be treated with kindness and consideration. But not on Black Friday. Black Friday says that people are obstacles who are now in my way of getting the $500 HD, 60", flat panel big screen T.V. If you have to trample over someone's fallen body, then DO IT! If you have to throw an elbow in order to grab a Xbox, then DO IT! Do whatever it takes because they don't call this day Black Friday for nothing. Disgusting!
People sacrifice their souls. Is this what we are? Is who I am defined as merely being a consumer. Is that my sole identity? Is that my sole purpose? NO, God tells us that we are more than consumers. Our purpose goes well beyond mere consumption. We are to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism question #1)
Look!-let it be known that I like getting a good deal more than anyone. I rarely buy anything full price and will often wait for something to go on sale. But what I am angry about is how many of us are being led around by the nose by these stores and their contrived, manufactured sales.
They create artificial scarcity to build up need and angst. They manufacture hype and buzz. They tell us that we need to be there. They tell us we need to sacrifice everything to get it, our time, dignity and soul. And in return they will sell us stuff, already marked up 400%+, at a token discount, letting us believe that we smartest and luckiest people in the whole world.
STOP THE MADNESS!!!
I would encourage you to choose not to take part in this ritual. Sleep in and use the time on Friday to rest and rejuvenate. Enjoy the time with your family. Continue, from Thanksgiving day, to remember your blessings. Your life can feel frantic every other day of the year, why make this day like all the rest.
(this post adapted from a previous post at Provocative Church on Black Friday)