Monday, November 23, 2015

Eyes opening…

I’ll admit. I’ve often been smug around the holidays, even judgmental. At issue, was the hype and hysteria surrounding Black Friday, all it symbolized, all it idolized. To think we’ve grown so accustomed to constant consumption that people forgo Thanksgiving meal time simply to get better deals at Walmart. To imagine we’re so comfortable with coveting that shoppers have fights over who gets the fashionable new toy first. Oh, the shame! I’ve said such stuff regularly before.

Then, over the past year, whenever I’ve taken the foster boy to Toys R Us, he’s begged for this particular red Ferrari remote control car. He’s right. It’s awesome. Large, fast, stylish. I understand the kid’s drooling. Unfortunately, it’s not inexpensive. He keeps saying anyway, “Can I get it?” I’m like, “Just save your money kid, for the next five years.” Nevertheless, I’ve filed it in my memory for just this moment to arrive: Christmas Season.

In other words, we’re about to buy presents. Plus, his birthday is a week before Christmas. And while I know that he’ll still be quite excited if we get him cheaper toys then that RC Ferrari…well, I still know how much he’s dreamed about that RC Ferrari. Should we give in and pay up, or hold out and stay solvent? That’s become the debate. I know the choice isn’t that dramatic (it’s not a real Ferrari, after all!). But I’ve gone back and forth a lot. An unexpected turn about a week ago, however. It dawned on me that maybe…maybe…MAYBE the Ferrari will be on Black Friday sale! If so, best of both worlds, right? We don’t pay full price for this toy we know that he passionately desires. The only sacrifice will be sleep after Thanksgiving. Whatever.

At least, that’s the idea I’ve been wrestling with recently. So to all those who’ve been the unknowing object of my judgmental/anti-Black Friday attitude before, I’m very sorry. I was being haughty. However, I’m befuddled now, because I still don’t like that naked consumerism is held up as an unalloyed good around this time, every year. It’s not! Given the environmental impact of all the waste we generate to keep buying more disposable stuff, given the pressure it puts on families who can’t afford a lavish Christmas to go into deeper credit card debt, given that Jesus said, “Love God with all your everything,” and not, “Love presents.” Just because a special sale makes buying more a bit more affordable doesn’t mean we should buy more. Obviously. Yet, we do.

Solutions? I’m still searching! I think for this year, though, now that I’m less resistant to viewing Black Friday shopping as a good idea, I’m giving myself the following rule of thumb. If I go, all purchases must be something I know I’d otherwise make. I.e. I may go get that Ferrari. But if I see something I didn’t actually plan on grabbing, I will (hopefully) not allow myself to talk myself into believing I need it.

Presumably, other folk have already figured this out, or something better. The experience is new for me, though. Tabitha and I aren’t big gift givers, or receivers. We’ve never felt much Black Friday pressure for one another. Then, we became foster parents, and learned over the past year that our foster son feels extra loved when he gets a gift. Especially if the gift is one he’s been wanting. So I’ve had fun thinking about what he wants, how we can get it for him, what’s too much, what’s just right, etc. Because that’s not a conversation about consumption. It’s about relationship building, fostering deeper attachments, joyful connections for a boy who deserves them.

Makes me wonder if all this time, our Heavenly Parent has been scheming ways to help us receive those gifts that make us feel specially known, particularly cared for? I hope so. I’d like to think God cares that much for us. In fact, I do think that! And maybe best of all- I now realize- is that God’s not holding out for Black Friday sales. Good Friday showed that God will pay any price to shower us with love.

Grace and Peace,
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