The ministers at the Broken Arrow church have gotten into the habit of going out to lunch together every Monday following our weekly meeting that includes the administrative staff and a couple of our elders.  It is a great way to just enjoy one another’s company and increase our fellowship and closeness as a ministry staff.  Much of our lunch conversation this week centered on the Thanksgiving holiday, and from there we segued into a discussion of Black Friday, the ominous “Day After” of frenzied shopping. We mused on the irony that, just a few hours after a day devoted to gratitude and sharing with others, a brave store clerk unlocks the department store doors at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. and unleashes a tsunami of consumerism, greed, snatching, grabbing, tugging, grumbling, and griping.  Those among the masses who are highly organized and fleet of foot generally manage to reach their targeted* merchandise (*not an endorsement or a trademark infringement).  They hoist their trophies high above their heads and do a victory dance all the way to the checkout line.  What a way to officially begin the Christmas shopping season!  Peace on earth, indeed! 

While the term “Black Friday” has several historical and cultural connotations, it was not associated with the mega-shopping day after Thanksgiving until about 1966.  It reportedly originated in Philadelphia as a way to describe the heavy traffic on downtown streets and the overcrowded sidewalks outside shops as consumers scrambled to take advantage of the post-Thanksgiving Day sales.  Merchants have since emphasized a more positive meaning of the term, given that the seasonal shopping spree is often responsible for removing the red ink from accounting ledgers and getting retailers “back in the black.”  Those who work in retail frequently associate the term with the worst of human behavior that often manifests itself among the day’s shoppers. 

Kim and I have only ventured out once in the wee hours of Black Friday on a quest for a few specific items at significantly marked-down prices.  While that particular mission was successfully accomplished, I am not sure I would ever roll out of bed that early again just to shop.  I have decided that if a store wants to offer an item totally free of charge and deliver it to my house at 5:00 a.m., I might get up and answer the doorbell.

If you do plan on braving the crowds this Friday morning, let me offer just a few suggestions that might help dispel a little of the “darkness” of the day and extend the spirit of Thanksgiving for a few more hours:

  • As you make each and every purchase, consciously reflect on the fact that the only reason you are able to do so is because of the abundant blessings that have been graciously supplied by our heavenly Father
  • Intentionally drive past a parking space so that the next driver can get it
  • Insist that someone with fewer items take the place ahead of you in line
  • Ask each checkout clerk that you encounter if they had an enjoyable Thanksgiving; thank them for working on a day that will no doubt involve hours that are long and customers who are short on patience
  • Tell someone that God loves them and/or invite them to church on Sunday
  • Assist another shopper who is in obvious need of help
  • If you find yourself getting stressed and irritable (or if someone else finds you getting this way), bail out, go home, kick off your shoes, relax, and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and may it last far beyond Thursday!