I know that I am not the only one who is saddened and perhaps a little sickened to see how the Thanksgiving holiday has been replaced by a worship consumerism holiday. It has been bad for years, but I feel like this year we have reached a new level of terrible. Since moving in with the in-laws we have actually been watching a real television leaving me exposed to commercials for the first time in a long time (which are horrible to begin with). In what tv commercial watching I have done I have seen advertised that this year quite a few companies will be open on Thanksgiving, instead of super early on that blackest of black Fridays. All week long I’ve been getting pretty worked up when I think of all the people who will not be spending the holiday with their family or friends simply because their employers are greedy and are opening on Thanksgiving to lure more money spenders in…
Then again are the employers greedy and to blame, or are we the greedy public to blame? Somehow I do not think that these businesses would be open if they did not know that Americans worship consumerism more than any other god. That we will be willing to not spend time with each other simply being thankful for having food and each other, but will leave our homes and go buy more stuff than what we could possibly need. While I can understand, though still not agree with, this about American culture; I cannot stand in within the Christian community. It does not happen though just with Black Friday and holiday shopping, but all year round. We talk in our conversations, blogs, Facebook, etc about the latest and greatest we want or are buying. I can only imagine what God thinks when he sees us all with the latest Apple swag while our Christian sisters and brothers around the world go without for the most basic necessities (I don’t think they are happy or proud parent thoughts). I sound harsh. It is harsh. But know that I realize it is not something I am perfect at either. I too can be swayed by the latest and greatest…but I am fighting hard to not let living in America with it’s national religion on consumerism convert me.
As this holiday and Advent season approaches Phillip and I have been thinking and praying through how to live with more intention. To not just “do” things this way or that way just because that is the way things are normally done. As we look at this greed around us…this poverty around us we are trying to figure out how to live a better Christian witness through how we spend our money. With that in mind we are boycotting Black Friday (which we have done in years past, but feel more passionate about this year) and will instead work to spend time being thankful for the people in our lives and actually spend time with them. When it comes to holiday gifts we have decided to only give our support to local small businesses or small businesses on sites like Etsy. We are trying to think less of material things that our family might enjoy, but certainly don’t need (I honestly can barely think of one material thing that I actually need…how bout you?), and more about things they can experience together, and will bring us all closer together in relationship.
With this decision we are honestly enjoying the holiday season already so much more. We are putting our energy to making things for people we love and discovering neat small businesses to support in the process. We are spending our evening writing to people who enrich our lives to make sure they know this.
I would encourage you my friends to pray about how you could make your holiday/ Advent season more intentional this year.If you would like to do a similar thing in terms of gifts I find these stores and sites helpful:
Ten Thousand Villages…it is all handmade and fair trade
Lamplighter Coffee Shop…they make and sell some of Richmond’s best coffee
Almost anything on Etsy…it is unique and usually beautiful
Blue Ridge Mountain Sports…it is a local to VA sporting goods store
Ellwood Thompsons…it does not just have groceries, but all sorts of cute small gifts you could give to someone
Happy Almost Thanksgiving everyone…lets spend more time being thankful for all that God has already blessed us. More time eating good food. More time snuggling up with a book. More time praying. More time playing a game of monopoly with your family…and six hours later when you are done perhaps going for a walk in the beautiful weather we are being gifted.
Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life.
— A. J. Cronin
“When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.” Sam Lefkowitz