If malls and big box stores have become our temples, then shopping is how we worship and no form of prayer is more American than opening our wallets.
As you’ve all undoubtedly heard, many retailers will be opening their doors for Black Friday on Thursday, a day on which some lesser holiday, whose name escapes me at the moment, occurs. You can’t rightly call it Black Friday if it happens on a Thursday, so folks have taken to calling it Gray Thursday. Catchy, right?
Best Buy and Walmart will be opening their doors at 6 p.m. on Thursday, while Macy’s, Target, JCPenney, Kohl’s and Sears will begin welcoming suckers.. er, customers into their stores at 8 p.m.
Earliest of all, Kmart, which is owned by Sears Holdings, will be opening at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning and staying open for 41 hours straight. (Of course, K-Mart has been open on Thanksgiving for years.)
Now, everyone and their brother’s mother seems to recognize that this is a greedy, soul sucking push by struggling retailers to bleed consumers, but we refuse to do anything about it. We may rant and rave in indignation, but we’ll ultimately shrug our shoulders in apathy and write it off as another inevitability.
Our frenzied lust for stuff, usually tempered by at least a modicum of rational thought during the year, all comes to head in one glorious moment as those sliding glass doors fly open to reveal where our true treasures lie. Big screen TVs, iPads, bread makers, We know in our hearts (especially as Christians) that it won’t satisfy, but we are driven by some demon compulsion that economists call behavioral economics; get people in for a “one-time only” deal, and even if the “doorbuster” stuff is gone early, they’ll buy something to justify the time wasted.
This makes no logical sense because the stuff on sale now will be even cheaper in a few weeks (and the store emptier), but it never fails to entice. It’s easy to shake our fingers at the retailers for infringing on the one day a year that’s supposed to eschew commercialism, but we have only ourselves to blame.
That the retailers use marketing ploys should come as no surprise; that’s what they do. But the fact that we support them in this destruction of sanctity is the real tragedy. Our collective dollars, as consumers, are one of the most powerful weapons in the free world, and yet, we continue to use them for evil (and to our own ultimate demise) than training them on things that really matter.
This year, instead of throwing up your hands in disgust, refuse to support this ugliness. Don’t buy a thing. Instead, take stock of what you already have; family, friends, love, full bellies, laughter, clothes on your back, clean water to drink, and a Savior whose love will long outlast that new laptop.