Guest Blog by: Beth Orchard 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 at 10 pm 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’ which, if you haven’t noticed, is in a recession. 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 in Alabama who will be spending Thanksgiving not knowing when, or if, they will ever see each other again. Consider an alternative idea to shopping for just another item at the mall. g92.org is selling t-shirts to support the creation of more documentaries like ‘A New Dream’ and helps us maintain this blog and produce study guides and experiences of loving our neighbors. Our work requires funds and by purchasing a t-shirt for yourself or a loved one you can help us continue to work towards making a difference. If you buy 2 t-shirts today, we will ship you 1 for free. The front image is a graphic of an engraving of one of the last European immigrants on a ship bound for Ellis Island. The wording on the back of the shirt is from the United States Declaration of Independence: all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Please consider us when you think about shopping on Black Friday as an alternative to shopping at the mall. You can help g92.org continue its work. We 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.
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