Editor’s note: The original version of this blog appeared on November 21, 2011.
Black Friday is a day I usually dread. People camp out for days to buy items such as televisions, video games and other things at greatly reduced prices. Some stores will be open starting on the eve of Thanksgiving, with others opening early Thanksgiving day to kick off sales early. This is all done in the name of getting a great bargain.
The origins of this day aren’t clear, but it has come to be known as a day for retailers to boost revenue and get a head start on the holiday season to close out year’s end “in the black.” This year, some stores decided to open earlier to help “boost the economy.” It is also synonymous for being a day in which people come out in droves to buy Christmas presents for family and friends and, perhaps, a little something for themselves.
I’m not opposed to the very idea of shopping for bargains; in fact I’m a huge bargain shopper, often going to Goodwill, Kohl’s or other low-price stores to shop for deals. I am, however, dismayed Black Friday has become a distinctly American phenomenon of shopping til we drop. It does seem this day is creating quite a stir with our neighbors across the pond in the United Kingdom. As they don’t actually celebrate Thanksgiving, there is controversy over replicating a day of what is seen as synonymous with America’s culture of “more is better.”
I have to stop and think about our immigrant neighbors and friends, and how they perceive Thanksgiving or Black Friday. While I was at work yesterday, I asked a few coworkers who were from Mexico their thoughts on Thanksgiving. Many of them said it was about familia, about spending time with people they love; a time to eat, share and enjoy a day of rest.
Others explained to me that they work several jobs to pay bills, getting up early for work then doing landscaping jobs or running restaurants in the afternoons and on weekends in an effort to support their family and kids. Some of their parents or relatives were back in Mexico, Guatemala or El Salvador and were not going to be with them. In fact, they never had enough money or time off work to be with them at the holidays and thus spend it with whatever relatives or friends might live nearby.
There were still others who told me stories of discord in their families, who were forced to choose between where to spend their time or whether to spend it alone. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m making a choice to say a prayer for those who cannot be with loved ones, who see the television reports of people stampeding to buy items they may never have and wish for something more.
For them, ‘Dia de Gracias’ is about giving thanks, about appreciating what we have. I am reminded of a passage in Colossians 2: 6-7 which says “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
With faithful hearts and pensive minds, I ask you to consider the true meaning of Thanksgiving if you are venturing out to the stores today. Consider ways to engage your neighbor and hear their stories. Think about families who are being torn apart, who will be spending Thanksgiving not knowing when, or if, they will ever see each other again. We at G92 are grateful for your support as a community of people who do not view Black Friday as just another day of shopping, but a day to give back to those less fortunate and be reconciled in the name of Jesus, who loves us all-not for what we have, but for how we live in His footsteps of truly loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Beth Orchard is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago with a Master’s in Social Justice. She is a former editor of the G92.org blog, a writer, and passion advocate for the oppressed, marginalized and immigrant voices that so often go unheard.
Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92, or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated.
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