Monday, November 26, 2012


I know what Black Friday is. I'd never even heard of Cyber Monday until last night. And as far as I knew, last Thursday was actually called Thanksgiving but, apparently, it's official term is now Gray Thursday.

I think our society has hit an all time low.

On Tuesday, when I drove past Best Buy, there were two tents erected on the sidewalk. On Tuesday people. More than 48 hours before the store would open. I am assuming that these individuals gave up a Thanksgiving meal with family or friends so that they could be first in line for a new television with a good price tag.

I understand shopping on Black Friday because there are some incredible deals. I went out with my mom so this is definitely a "pot calling the kettle black" kind of post. Why hello there, Kettle. Nice to meet you. I'm Pot." (Except that sort of makes me sound like a green, leafy recreational drug.) But what I noticed is that our society needs an intervention. Me included.

We stuffed ourselves with turkey and a variety of dishes where the first ingredient listed is CARBS! and then the second ingredient is MORE CARBS! We washed down the carbs with green salad and then sugar with the active ingredients of PUMPKIN PIE and WHIPPED CREAM. At some point, we realized that Walmart opened at 8:00 pm. I also noticed that a certain something I was hoping to procure for my husband was on mega (!!!) sale so it was "necessary" to wander over.

We left the house at 7:57 because, well, we were going to the Walmart by my house which is never very crowded. It took me a minute to realize that the cars were parked all the way down the street because the enormous parking lot was full. There were police officers directing traffic. We parked down a side street and hiked walked a short distance up to the store. There wasn't a cart in sight. People were bumping into each other like a summer Saturday at Disneyland meets the restroom during halftime of a major sporting event. We were vacillating between laughing in a sort of awed amazement and gawking in a silent stupor. As we slowly made our way around the store, we stopped at those bins of cheap movies near the electronics section. There were people standing, shoulder to shoulder, like the links in chainmail, digging furiously through the DVDs as though someone had informed them that there was a check for a million dollars at the bottom.

Lines of people stood, waiting for an iPad to go on sale later in the night. Police officers and hoards of employees patrolled taped off sections. Men guarded carts. Women weaved briskly about. "Do you want the Tupperware?" someone yelled down an aisle. "Did you see the prices on these games?" another shouted.

We looked at each other. It was so easy to get sucked into the frenzy of SALE and HALF PRICE. We started talking about other places. So many other places a stick and a rock makes a great game, or an Operation Christmas Child shoe box shows up and children are absolutely thankful, or a decent meal would be a huge blessing. As we made our way over to the grocery section where they were having several items go on sale at 10:00, we commented about just how ridiculous our society is, just how material, just how greedy. "It really makes me sick," I said with an uncomfortable lump in my stomach and, before I'd put the finishing letter on the last word I continued, "Oohhh! Look at that!" I have a compassion deficit, apparently. It only lasts until the next shiny thing catches my attention. Thankfully, I realized the pathetic nature of my juxtaposition and called myself on it.

I can't explain it but I felt dirty. I needed to wash the consumerism off my body. I needed to remind myself that while I receive huge happiness in giving gifts and a fair amount in receiving them, this just isn't about getting the best deal. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from the chaos and the crowd and be thankful for what we already have, not what we think we can't live without.

I had just eaten more food in a half hour span of time than some people see in a week. I have a roof over my head. I have running water. I have outrageous medical insurance that I complain about all the time but I don't really have to worry that my kids will die of the common cold. I have cable and a cell phone. I AM WEALTHY by the world's standards.

I saw on the news that a woman drove a U-Haul on Black Friday because her car wasn't big enough for all the things she intended to get. Last night they featured the same woman operating two computers simultaneously to get the best Cyber Monday deals. I complained about how ridiculous it was that she needed that much stuff.

But compared to the rest of the world, I might as well be U-Haul lady. Why was I so privileged to be born into such a rich country? And how do I consistently remember to be rich in faith and godly inheritance instead of consumed by the lure of shiny stuff?

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