I started and finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. I pulled into a Hess station, and purchased this year’s featured toy truck for my two young nephews (who really seem to be into trucks and cars), and it was over. Christmas shopping completed for another year! Woo-hoo!!!!
Truth be told, I can’t see all the wasted time, energy and frenzy surrounding events like Black Friday. Each year for Christmas I choose a religious Christmas card for my other nieces and nephews and place either money or a gift card in them. My brothers, sister (and their spouses) and I generally have limited or entirely eliminated buying things for each other. I remember my mom each year by taking her out to dinner and/or planning a trip with her sometime later—something she really enjoys.
What I have to say here has nothing to do with stimulating the economy or supporting our local merchants and has everything to do with resisting the materialism and the consumer mentality that has seemingly swallowed up the true meaning of Christmas.
When I saw certain retail stores advertize pre-Black Friday sales, and encourage shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself, I have to say “Enough is enough!” Thanksgiving for my siblings and me is a family holiday where we get to spend some quality time with each other. If people resist buying on such a day, then the stores would see that there is simply no profit in opening at this time and would cease this practice. No profit would translate into don’t open today.
It is like many other things in our society that indicate we have certain priorities out of whack. As long as we are willing to pay astronomical ticket prices for athletes and entertainers, as long as we feel the need for status symbols like over-priced luxury cars, extravagant jewelry and the latest electronics, as long as so many unborn children are seen as disposable, as long as the worship of God appears to be on or near the bottom of our priority list, then our Western society will continue to suffer from a disastrous, spiritual poverty.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta had some thoughts on this spiritual poverty:
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
Filling our narcissistic tendencies with things and more things will only bring more emptiness. Finding time for God, for our families and to love one another will fill the void in each of us.
We need to say: “Enough is enough!”
Fr. Ed Namiotka
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta