Last week I spent Thanksgiving at my youngest son and daughter-in-law’s in Wilmington, Ohio. On my way out the door, I grabbed my morning newspaper and threw it into my overnight bag to read at some point. It was as big as the Sunday newspaper.
Then it dawned on me that of course it was huge – the “Black Friday” madness was about to ensue, and the newspaper was crammed with advertisements. I didn’t get a chance to look at it until our dinner was over, the dishes done, and everyone was enjoying the warmth of the wood-fired stove in the family room. The kids were playing games, and the adults were groaning and groggy from eating too much.
I dug out the ads and started leafing through them. As I looked at ad after ad, I wondered how we had come to the point where Americans can’t wait for Thanksgiving to end so the shopping can begin. Americans no longer enjoy Thanksgiving; it is now simply a day that gets in the way of the mad rush to the finish line of Christmas Day.
Families breeze over Thanksgiving, paying cursory homage to it with perfunctory get togethers and, at the break of dawn – barely before the Thanksgiving meal has settled – crazed shoppers rear their heads to the sound of a blaring alarm and head to the malls, rudely pushing and shoving to get in line to try to snag some bright, shiny new piece of technology.
Each year it seems the stores open earlier. Insanity rules as the lure of …. of what I don’t know drags people to the stores with tents, chairs, coffee, and various and sundry items to keep them busy until the long-awaited moment of chaos begins. Employees line up like buffers against the mobs waiting outside to rush through the doors as they open.
The stores knowingly perpetrate the pandemonium and countenance the fiasco – often by withholding stocks of merchandise until the last moment, putting it on the shelves moments before the doors open. Employees must feel like the sands of Bande Ache as the unstoppable tsunami of hysterical shoppers crash into them – pushing and shoving to obtain their prizes.
This year the insanity cost a Wal-Mart employee his life. The loss of life to this madness is inexcusable. In fact, how Americans handle themselves during the entire holiday season is inexcusable. The spirit of Christmas has become a casualty of greed and self-actualization. Greed on the part of the retailers and self-actualization on the part of the shoppers.
Where has Thanksgiving gone? Where has Christmas gone? For weeks all we have heard is the mumbo jumbo of “Black Friday” and the urgings of businesses to spend, spend, spend. Nary a word about Christmas and its meaning and why we celebrate. Americans have gone insane, and each year it only gets worse.
I hope the family of the dead employee sues the pants off Wal-Mart. The ultimate verdict should award the family not only compensatory damages but also a smack down in the form of punitive damages – in an amount that will get Wal-Mart’s attention and strike fear into the hearts and cash registers of the other co-conspirators of the “Black Friday” insanity.
As my visit wound down, we discussed Christmas presents. Each year I become tense and anxious calculating how much to spend, what to buy, how to get everything done, thinking about the exhaustion, and worrying about whether everyone will be happy with what I bought.
You can imagine, then, how absolutely thrilled I was when my son said “Mom, we were thinking, instead of buying so much stuff, let’s just take some money and donate it to a charity or a food bank.” I had always wondered why we couldn’t do something like this, but I never had the heart to discuss it and risk disappointing my grandkids.
So this year instead of wondering where Christmas has gone, we will find the true Christmas spirit and give to food banks and charities. It may not be a huge amount, but it will be given in the spirit of Christmas.
As the insanity of shoppers continues until Christmas is over for one more year, I am breathing a sigh of relief, and whispering a silent thank you to my son for bringing back what I believe is the real gift of Christmas – giving to others who are in need.