Black Friday, that is. And many do refer to it as a holiday, of sorts. Somehow, camping outside of Walmart in frigid temps, snow, rain, or whatever else the elements are throwing at us this time of year, doesn’t seem like much of a holiday to me. Neither does fighting the hordes of humanity, swearing and cursing in an attempt to find a parking space, being flicked the bird when I do find it ahead of some other shopper, simply to find that “perfect” gift is “out of stock” and the store isn’t issuing rain checks…the “perfect” gift that will likely be returned the day after Christmas. But to each their own.
(Sorry, inner-cynic coming out…LOL!)
Of course, I used to pride myself in having all of my Christmas gifts purchased by Black Friday and to spend this day actually wrapping them and filling out Christmas cards. I’m not quite as efficient these days. And, as I tend to make most of my gifts now, instead of purchasing, and I tend to procrastinate, I’m still working on those gifts right up until the last possible moment. This year may be different though. While I don’t have any gifts completed to wrap today, having found a new passion in the form of painting, I may not be procrastinating quite so much this season. Rather, I plan to use the day to simply make out my Christmas list.
But I can’t help wondering how such a tradition got started. Yes, from my years of working/volunteering in living history museums, I know that the Christmas tree became popularized in 1848 by an engraving that was published of the Royal Family–Queen Victoria and Prince Albert–admiring a Christmas tree in their home. Prince Albert was German and the yew tree was already a tradition in his homeland. This started the trend of trimming a tree. And, shortly thereafter, as the world figuratively shrunk due to what were then modern methods of travel, and cultures blended, the tradition of gift giving became a regular thing during the Yuletide season. But, back in the 1840’s and 50’s, gift giving involved a few sweets, or small tokens, hung on those evergreen boughs. I can remember, too, reading the “Little House” series of books where Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about the gifts she and her sisters received in their stockings but, again, they were modest by today’s standards: a shiny tin cup, a penny, an orange. This was the 1870’s and 80’s. Santa was ho-ho-ho-ing across the skies on Christmas Eve by now. And has been doing so ever since. But why has this day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, become marked in red on every modern calendar as the quintessential day to bowl our fellow man over in an attempt to get the best deals? I know it’s a marketing ploy for retailers but it just seems like such a waste, such a vulgar display of materialism, greed and pride.
But, then, I tend to be a minimalist.
And, as a Christian, I would rather remember the real reason we celebrate this day. While there is no mention of a date for Christ’s birth in the Holy Bible, remembering that a Savior was born to save the world fills me with far more satisfaction and peace than snagging that marked-up 50″ plasma screen TV, at 20% off, before every other shopper does.
May God bless you & keep you!