Black Friday,the day after Thanksgiving, is considered to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Although the term “Black Friday” has been used in many different ways, it has come to be seen as the day when retailers get out of the red and into the black financially, meaning that they begin to make a profit for the year. I’ll let economists work all that out, but this one thing I know – the big sales draw an untold number of people to malls and shopping centers all over the country. I was in one such shopping center and lived to write about it.
I saw lots and lots of people in long lines with armloads of stuff. I could take this moment to complain about materialism and greed. I could bemoan how we spend Thanksgiving Day filling our bellies and Black Friday emptying our wallets. I could find all kinds of negatives to dwell on, but that’s not all I saw on Friday.
I saw an elderly African-American lady with a cane being helped to her car by a young white woman. I saw a man with a smile on his face holding the door open while people streamed through to grab their early bird deals. I heard moms and daughters talking and laughing. I saw a salesperson pleasantly answering the same question about a 20% off coupon to at least twelve different customers. I witnessed two teenage boys call out to a woman to let her know that she had dropped an envelope of cash on the sidewalk. On a day known for incivility, rudeness, and occasional violence, I was treated to displays of kindness and patience. And as I played pack mule for my wife and daughter, I was thinking less about the stuff in the stores and more about the people on the sidewalk.
It is true that Black Friday can represent rabid materialism and excess, but it is also true that in the midst of a frenzy of shopping and spending there are moments where our nobler qualities shine through. In other words, we have a choice as to how we respond to the people and circumstances around us. And for those of us who claim Jesus as Savior and Lord, our response should be to show what true love is with patience, kindness, giving, joy, and putting others ahead of ourselves. What better time that at Christmas for those traits to shine through?