Thanksgiving, Shopping, Christmas…

Thanksgiving is truly my favorite holiday. I think it is because it is the one that actually remains most true to its origin. A quick look on social media shows that people really do take time to show gratitude and acknowledge blessings. More than any other holiday, it seems that family and friends take the front seat. Outside of the grocery stores, it is also the least commercial in itself. All the consumerism and hype surrounding Thanksgiving is actually focused on shopping for Christmas. Thanksgiving itself is left alone to be about getting together and appreciating what we have.

Many are lamenting that stores are opening on Thanksgiving to get a jump on the Christmas shopping season. For those that don’t like this practice, the answer is not in blasting the stores, but is in simply not participating. The less people that do so, the less stores will open. For those that enjoy the shopping and make an adventure of it, then go for it, because as long as you are willing to do so, the stores will open.

I am not a big shopper. The crowds and attitudes of people and chaos of it all keep me away. I have been out on “Black Friday” shopping twice. That is more than enough for me. Yes, you can get some deals if you are wiling to sacrifice sleep and wait in long lines. For me, it’s not worth it. I understand others truly enjoy it and that’s great for them.

The problem is not in the shopping or the getting up early or in the crowds. The problem is that common courtesy, respect, and human dignity get lost in the shuffle. It’s not consumerism that is the real issue, it’s materialism and greed. The fight to get whatever doorbuster deal and have the latest thing causes so many to lose perspective and that is sad. Over the next month, people will stress out over this purchase and that one. There will be pushing and shoving and yelling and name calling. Traffic will be ridiculous and the malls and stores will be absolutely crazy. All in the name of “giving”. Yet, so much of it is more about greed than about generosity.

Yet, on December 26, what is most remembered and appreciated, often will not have been purchased. Time together, kind words, thoughtful gestures, these are what will make the greatest impact. Even the most impressive and expensive gift will eventually lose its luster and “newness”. Most gifts will even end up discarded at some point. What will truly be cherished are the memories made.

Like everyone else, we have gifts to buy and we will be out shopping also. There is joy in giving gifts to those you love and we will do so. However, my focus will be to make memories with those I care most about. I will also strive to not get caught in the bustle and chaos of frazzled shopping. Instead, I will see people, individuals who need to be treated with respect and dignity because that is what honors God. In the midst of this season, we have unprecedented opportunity to spread hope and life in the name of Jesus. After all, it is His season. We can do so without being self-righteous and sarcastic and offended because someone says “Holiday” or “Season” instead of Christmas. We can say Christmas. More importantly, we can live it in our actions and our attitude.

Let’s show love. Let’s show people who Christ is in us by the way we live and treat others. Whether you are in the middle of the bargain lines or trying to avoid them, either way you can give and live honor to God. It’s not whether or not we participate, it’s how we do or don’t that matters.

Those who sit back and don’t get involved in Black Friday or Cyber Monday or whatever, but judge those who do and post pithy, self-righteous statements and “Jesus-jukes” (click to learn what that is) on social media are not actually honoring God. Neither are those who get lost in the greed and materialism of our society. As the old saying goes, “Don’t judge others simply because they sin differently than you.”

Instead, let’s show grace and mercy and love. Let’s honor God by loving people. Even the hard to love ones pushing their way to the front of the line at the store. Even the one whose cart keeps bumping you because they are in a hurry to get through checkout and on to the next store. Even the annoyed and rude cashier who is underpaid and tired of dealing with annoyed and rude customers. Even the person on Facebook that posts all those annoying religious comments designed to make everyone feel guilty.

That truly is what Jesus would have us do…