I’m not bashing Black Friday, though I fully anticipate being tucked in my bed with my nine month pregnant belly warm and out of the way of all carts or other devices that can become projectiles when shoppers go wild. However, I have been thinking a lot about what it says about our culture that we kick off the holiday season with a material driven mad dash to the nearest store. In some ways it probably shows that we’re givers, wanting to please those in our lives with things they want and get a discount in the meantime. I’m the ultimate bargain-shopping, coupon-clipping freak, so I fully understand the refusal to buy things at full price when you know you can get them on sale. Tradition also seems to play a huge part in Black Friday. I have friends who shop every year and then go grab coffee or lunch. It’s a bonding, almost survival type experience, and I find nothing wrong with any of that. I’m just not sure where it fits into our lives as we continue to try to progress.
We’ve set a limited Christmas budget this year because our goal has always been to stick to traditions that truly fit in with Christ’s purpose for Christmas. Though giving is one of those principles, gluttonous package tearing where everyone forgets who gave them what less than 48 hours later does not in my opinion. Then we received a catalog at church that put things into an even clearer perspective: a Gospel for Asia’s Christmas Gift Catalog. This is not exactly your JCPenney’s catalog with the pajamas and bedspreads. What can you buy for those in need in Asia if you feel so inclined? Try rabbits for $11. A pair of pigs for $55. A mosquito net for $10(malaria still causes 1 million deaths a year). The list goes on and on, and Dennis and I quickly became very intrigued by the idea of purchasing chickens and rickshaws and blankets. It makes sense. Spending $50 on stamps to send out Christmas cards to people I never see just to show off the cuteness of my offspring does not.
I’m not opposed to the idea that we can both give and receive. Yes, we can have Christmas presents and still give to others, and there is nothing super contradictory about that. It’s just that giving now feels better than receiving, and I want my children to feel that early on in their lives, to see the impact helping others can have. I also want them to run down the hall on Christmas morning excited about their presents. It’s a balance, but I would feel much better about us spending more on others than ourselves, which is the goal this year. If you also happen to be interested in giving, or you’re just curious about how much a solid pair of goats are going for these days, check out gfa.org/gift. It beats Black Friday crowds at four in the morning.