Saturday, November 24, 2012

On Black Friday

For years, the day after Thanksgiving meant “shopping.” For me, it meant “football and stay away from the mall.” Then, the stores started opening earlier. And then ridiculously earlier. Now, “Black Friday” begins on Thanksgiving Thursday. I think it’s gone too far.

The problem is not capitalism, as some would argue. The solution is not government intervention or a socialistic economic system. The market does a great job dealing with supply and demand. The problem is not money. Despite the teaching of some, being rich is not inherently wrong. It’s not even necessarily wrong to be one of the 1%.

The problem is people.

Business decisions made by people and shopping decisions made by people play their roles in supply and demand. The market, which is morally neutral, works. But, if people made the decision “I won’t shop on Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving is about celebrating who God is and what He has done,” the stores couldn’t stay open (no demand). If businesses (run by people) said “We’re going to honor Thanksgiving and keep our doors shut until Friday,” the shopper would have no place to shop (no supply).

Frankly, we shouldn't be surprised that people will look for “the deal” and that stores will offer “the deal”. The market is amoral. The principles of Free Enterprise work no matter the day.

But as a Christian, I want to show people (kids, grand kids  and whomever else might notice) that some things are more important than “a deal” or “making money.” I have no problem with people choosing to shop on Friday. But wouldn't it be great if enough people stood up and said “No thanks. It might cost me some money, but I am not going to shop on Thanksgiving. In fact, I’ll wait until x o’clock Friday to shop so that I’m not using Thursday to get ready for Friday.” Wouldn't it be great if some businesses decided to sacrifice some profit by choosing to stay closed until a reasonable hour Friday to honor the holiday and to allow their employees to celebrate?

These decisions aren't initially driven by supply and demand. They start with someone choosing to follow what they believe is right, not what makes the most sense economically. But if enough people on either side make the decision, the market would follow.  

Be the oddball. Shopper, stay out of the stores until a reasonable time Friday, even if that means you won’t get “the” deal.  Business owner, keep your doors closed until a reasonable hour Friday.

Yeah, I know I’m posting this a few days too late, but maybe we can start thinking about it for next year.

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. Don’t let it become about shopping and “deals”. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus who came to die for our sins that whoever believes in Him receives eternal life by the grace of God. Don’t let it be about “stuff.” No matter if you and I alone follow this path, practice sacrifice for a higher purpose. It’s worth it. You might even choose to sacrifice and give to others in need instead of spending money on "stuff", but that’s food for another post.

Happy Thanksgiving  –  Merry Christmas. 

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