By Sarah Read
Black Friday is a bit of a conundrum to me. There is something insincere in the detail that less than 12 hours after Thanksgiving dinner, a meal at which we gather to reflect on all that we are grateful for, folks are literally losing sleep to rush, race and shove their way to accumulate more. On the other hand, with the indulgent heights of consumerism, one could argue we are lucky to get one day of Thanks before the days of MORE resume.
I am not saying I have never participated in early morning shopping on the big sale day in excitement for Christmas. Or that I never will again. Simply that we should pause with awareness, and examine our own raison d’être, or, reason for being. What is our basic, essential purpose, what are our motivations behind what we get swept up with over the holidays? What is driving us? If I were willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning to wait in line for the newest “gadgets” or deals of the year, would I, in turn, be willing to get up at that hour to, say, prep a food kitchen for the poor?
As a stay-at-home mom to a 3-year-old and 1-year-old, I need to watch the road I’m going down more so than ever, as I am not the only passenger anymore. My husband and I must live the example we want our children to follow. If I want them to learn that the Lord should be our guide, then I have to strive to let my actions be driven by Him, rather than the driving forces of advertisements, social standards, or what the Jones do.
After all, as the bible tells us, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
I’m not above a little retail therapy. I like to shop as much as the next mom out there and my kids are certainly spoiled in the way of toys. Our cup runneth over, and yet our tree will still be crowded with boxes, bags and bows. While our children receive more than their share of gifts, we also place just as much emphasis on our charitable activities and teaching the fun rewards of giving.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “–Acts 20:35
There are many different beliefs, traditions, religions and customs this time of year. No matter a person’s faith, I think that, in the hustle bustle of the retail world and emphasis on Santa, wish lists and material goods, even honest terms of sentiment such as “it’s the thought that counts” or “the reason for the season” can become merely hackneyed phrases.
This time of year will only be hurried, chaotic and stressful if we allow it to be. My goal this holiday season is to enjoy the flavor without rush, reflect and create without guilt, and to savor the magic. And it starts with the homemade cookies I am about to bake with my kids, mess and mayhem included. But hey, with young kids, even a cup of calm comes with a dash of bedlam, doesn’t it?