Your palms are getting sweaty as the second-hand ticks towards 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. You’ve been waiting for this moment the entire year. All of your loved ones swarm around you in delight, chattering and laughing. That warm, fuzzy feeling is tingling down your spine. Yes! It’s finally here…
The door bursts open, and you feel a sharp elbow plunge into your ribcage. No one stands a chance against your friends and family’s plan to divide and conquer Target, though. You’re on a mission: Electronics first then Home Goods. A slingshot maneuver through the toys aisle to pick up a few new board games off clearance and then a pit stop at Hair and Beauty before a mad dash to the cash register.
Perfect. Only 6:30 p.m. Now you have time to hit the mall for that clothing sale at JC Penney.
Ever since the 1800s, crowds of people have stampeded through stores on post-Thanksgiving Fridays with a ravenous appetite for the best deals on Christmas gifts. Fights in both physical and verbal forms have broken out all across America over things as simple as a CD.
Sure, it’s a relief when you can save hundreds of dollars on luxurious materials you would otherwise not be able to afford. It’s exciting to surprise your girlfriend with the sparkly necklace she’s been ogling for months or make your dad feel special with the engraved golf clubs he’s wanted since he was a kid. But at what moral cost? At what emotional and familial loss?
The Season of Sacrifice
I was shocked when I first heard that some parents opt to have a giftless Christmas every other year with their children. They explained how they want their children to learn that the holiday season is not a time to be selfish and entitled. A spin-off tradition, other parents encourage their children to choose two or three of their gifts to give away to less fortunate families. Sacrifice and giving is certainly the pinnacle of this jolly time of year. However, it tends to tilt toward the opposite end of the spectrum.
Black Friday continues to rear its head with every passing year. So much so that it has bled into what we now call “Red Thursday.” This evil counterpart has begun to consume family Thanksgiving dinners all over the United States. People are sacrificing quality time with their parents, grandparents, children, siblings, etc. for a few extra hours of the retail war. Not only that, but we are forcing people to work on a day they should be enjoying the sentimental joys of life with family and friends.
We are running over one another to reach a shelf full of half-priced candles. We are engaging in yelling matches and physical brawls over discounted tablets and TVs. And what does this teach us? What example does that set for future generations? That convenience, comfort, and instant gratification are more important than consideration, kindness, and generosity? That it is okay to ignore the well-being of our neighbors for the sake of Christmas gifts?
Once we learn that empty pockets and full shopping carts do not equal a full heart, we will find more peace and harmony in the holiday season. It is our family, our friends, and more than that, our relationship with Jesus Christ that will truly satisfy us. It is our responsibility, especially as children of God, to remind others of the value of thankfulness. What we have right now, whether they be tangible items, relationships, or abstract concepts like faith and hope, is what will propel us into a healthier mindset and, ultimately, a better lifestyle.
There will always be new flash-sales and lowered prices for bigger and better things. But that’s just it. They are only things. So let us take our time around the dinner tables and remember to serve others first this Thanksgiving. Let us cherish our current blessings instead of vying for more of them.
“For we must always cherish the words of our Lord Jesus, who taught, ‘Giving brings a far greater blessing than receiving’” (Acts 20:35, TPT).
Feature Image by Clark Young