Sunday, December 01, 2013

Thoughts on Black Friday

I generally avoid it. Well, many years I'm traveling home on that day, so I don't have any choice but to avoid it. But it makes me very sad to hear about what people do. One of the men at church today was saying he heard that one woman tasered another woman over a shopping cart at some store. And there's always the person who gets trampled, or pushed, or robbed of what they have bought.

I don't know but I can't imagine Jesus intended for our celebration of His birthday to include things like this.If I had to spend too much time around the craziness I suspect I'd become a no-gifts-for-Christmas advocate as at least one person I know has become. (Still - I like getting gifts and giving gifts. Even if it's something very simple. We did the "simplified Christmas" thing a couple years when I was a teenager, where as a family you set a strict budget for everything (gifts, decorations, the meal) and then donate the difference between your strict budget and what you would ordinarily spend. Oh, my brother and I still each got one "big" gift from our parents, and we didn't feel was actually kind of nice. I think each person got one "big" gift and everything else was either small (comic books, for example) or homemade (it helps to be able to sew. And also, I remember one year I was taking woods shop in junior high, and was able to make something for my parents in there)

I also found out that a couple of my more-distant relatives have suggested ending the annual exchange of gifts we used to do. At first I was a little sad about that but then again, I realized - I can take the money I had budgeted for gifts for them and give it to the Salvation Army or somewhere, and I think I am going to do that, rather than spending it on myself or just leaving it in my household budget to get eaten up by incidentals.

I am not big on electronics, and in my family we generally have more modest expectations and budgets for gifts - I will go as high as $50 on a person but that's the most you're "allowed" to spend. And I really prefer mail-ordering stuff, and getting stuff that relates to people's hobbies - my sister in law is getting a "gardener's gift basket" that features some tools and also a bunch of Amish-produced heirloom seeds, and my brother is getting a pizza-maker's kit with a pizza stone and such, because he enjoys cooking and especially making pizza. The bonus is I can mail-order both of these items and I don't have to brave the malls or the big-box stores. I usually "shop" for presents by looking at catalogs as they come in and flagging anything I think might be good for someone I am buying for, and then after a while of looking, deciding, and ordering that thing.

Often, also, I buy stuff from small businesses. It just seems like a nicer place to shop, and I know small businesspeople sometimes have a rough go of it these days, so I figure if they have what I want, I'm going to send my business their way.

I think I've been to the Target (of the big-box stores, the one I am most likely to go to) for the last time until after Christmas. It was a couple weeks ago (not even official shopping season yet) and people were crazy and awful to each other. And I don't need that. As much as I might like some of their house-brand food items, as much as I can get things like paper towels for a better price from them, it's not worth dealing with the bad behavior of my fellow shoppers.

I wonder what would happen if there were a genuine shortage of something needed to live. You hear of people getting shot over televisions, which, while they are a nice luxury to have, are not essential to life. But what if medications became hard to come by, or food? It's scary to contemplate. I want to believe that many people would help those weaker than they are and would try to get enough to share with them - but the way things are now, I don't know.

I enjoy all the trappings of Christmas, I enjoy picking out gifts for the people I love, I enjoy receiving gifts. But it makes me sad that some people can apparently let avarice or selfishness or - I don't know what - override the love they are feeling for that person, and turn into cruelty to other people in the store or working at the store.

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