By Carol Round, Special to ASSIST News Service
CLAREMORE, OK (ANS – December 13, 2015) — “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires”—Romans 8:5 (NIV).
Since the phenomenon known as Black Friday became synonymous with snagging bargains on everything from electronics to toys, I have never participated. Not once. Nada. Never.
Why? While I love a bargain, I dislike crowds. I also dislike what that day symbolizes to me: materialism. Bah Humbug!
My curiosity led me to research the origin of the term Black Friday. It’s long been a popular belief the name originated from the idea that the holiday shopping season—which kicks off the day after Thanksgiving (at least in the past)—moved retailers from being “in the red” or experiencing losses to being “in the black” (showing profits).
However, according to MoneyCrashers.com and several other websites, the term originated in Philadelphia in the 1960s when shopping traffic was so bad, police officers had to work 12-hour shifts. Hence, they gave the “bleak” day a negative name.
Because retailers didn’t like the negativity surrounding the official first day of the Christmas shopping season, they started offering deeply discounted prices to lure shoppers into their businesses. Now, it’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. I’ve just become disillusioned with the hype surrounding it. I know I’m not the only one who detests Christmas décor displayed in stores before the end of September—and sometimes earlier. While not begrudging retailers a profit, I feel it diminishes the real meaning of Christmas.
What is the answer to this holiday madness?
First, keep it simple. Jesus was born into meager circumstances to two poor Galileans. He lived a life of humility and simplicity which became key elements in His ministry. Seek to serve those in need just as our Savior did during His time on earth. Find a place to volunteer. Opportunities to serve are abundant.
Second, just be there. It’s ironic that we often spend so much time preparing for Christmas, we don’t enjoy time with our loved ones. We keep our schedules full and hectic. We spend money lavishly on things that will be forgotten one day, instead of making memories that will last.
Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church wrote the following: “Attention says, ‘I value you enough to give you my most precious asset—my time.’” He adds, “When you give someone your time, you’re giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never, ever get back.”
Third, true giving comes from the heart. Giving is God’s antidote to materialism. God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, the ultimate gift. Just as His birth is the perfect gift, the essence of Christmas is that we simply and humbly give of ourselves.
We don’t have to camp out days in advance to grab a bargain or rise early to fight for one. The best gift we’ll ever receive is a tiny baby who gave His life for each who accepts His amazing grace.
Photo captions: Seek a simpler Christmas this year (http://vdubdesigns.com) 2) Carol Round.
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