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Because there is always laundry to do, I spent part of my Saturday folding laundry and listening to a Christian radio station. During a commercial break, the station announced that they are having a contest, and the prize is a Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) shopping spree, complete with limo ride, lunch and $500 gift card.
I dropped one of my husband’s shirts on the floor in surprise. Yes, this is the type of contest radio stations normally offer, but I was taken aback at hearing it from a Christian station. I immediately asked myself, “where would Jesus be on Black Friday?”
The first thing that comes to mind, I’m afraid, is the Temple scene, where Jesus drives out the moneychangers and tells everyone off. I think you can make a pretty strong case for shopping malls and big box stores, and yea, even the Wal-Marts, being the temples of the United States of America. So I’m thinking he’d be there, but not to shop.
You may have heard that some people celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead of Black Friday. I’ve gone back and forth on this. It’s hard to resist the deals (especially, in the Pacific Northwest, the Fred Meyer half-price sock sale). And we don’t have a lot of money, so huge deals can be helpful to our budget. So, in some years I’ve gone with Buy Nothing, and in others I’ve shopped. Last year I even wrote an article about Black Friday deals, in order to earn a little extra money.
This year, I could easily justify scrambling for the best deals. Our budget is as limited as ever, if not more so. But I’m not going to do it. This year, above all years, we need to change our ways. We’ve seen the economy going down the toilet. Many people will tell you that the cure for this is for people to spend more money. Spending more money will make the economy better!
Maybe temporarily. But, as we’ve seen this year, an economy based on consumerism and greed is not sustainable. We can’t keep doing this.
If you believe we need to change, join me in ditching Black Friday. But don’t stop there! If we boycott Black Friday and then shop just as much as usual later on, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Think about alternatives that help other people, or that support the local economy.
- Alternative gift giving, or giving to charity instead of giving a physical gift. Check out living gifts from the Heifer Project, Mercy Kits from Mercy Corps, or the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) gift catalog.
- Used items: books, games, kitchen items, clothing, and more.
- Handcrafted items from a local bazaar or from Etsy (http://etsy.com)
- Make your own handcrafted gifts, and spend time together as a family while doing it.
- Gifts of time or experience rather than things: Babysitting, yard work, a trip to the zoo, dance lessons, etc.
- Give your time to help others instead of giving each other gifts: volunteer to serve a holiday dinner for the homeless, help with a food drive, or pick up trash on the beaches.
After all, Jesus didn’t just stop at throwing the merchants out of the temple. According to Matthew 12:14 (The Message), after this “Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.” And children ran and shouted through the temple for joy.