The pundits and predictors were stunned that Black Friday produced so many shoppers, and more than that...SPENDERS. That's right. Lots of times tradition may pull turkey-stuffed folks off the couch and away from mega-screen television sets to battle the throngs in local stores. However, this year, not only were throngs out in record-breaking numbers, they were spending all that hard-earned cash they'd been squirreling away. Or...using that easy-come plastic in hopes of prosperity on the horizon. Shoppers were buying electronics, computers, wii systems, and new slippers. But don't get excited. It's not about the season of giving. It's not about Christmas. It's not about you. It's not about others...according to surveys.
Surveys say why folks are buying what. And the main reason people are spending is to grab bargains for themselves. No longer are they waiting for Christmas. No longer are they depending on Santa. They are getting their wide-screen televisions, and Kindles, and whatevers, for themselves. I can't say that I'm surprised. In an environment of Occupy Wall Street, Dallas, Atlanta, and other cities, a world of greed and me-first folks are breeding. "What's in it for me" seems to be the mantra of our world.
Hubs and I were sitting in the middle of Lawton's Central Mall on Saturday. We were enjoying eggrolls and fried rice with four of our granddaughters at the cafe court. As we sat there laughing and chewing, a group of teenagers entered the mall. One fella looked up and pointed to an elaborate garland hanging above our heads. He said, "This is suppose to be the season when we have fantastic decorations everywhere; and this is what we get?" I looked around the food court, and had to admit, that there was not a New York Times Square grandeur. However, the garland he pointed to was very pretty. I wondered, what is "enough" for him? What would meet his expectation of grandeur?
My granddaughters came up from Texas the night before, to make our contribution to the Gingerbread House competition at our church. It's become a tradition since we lost their daddy to make our "Petersen" mark on the world each year. This year we didn't get the least bit flustered or intense about constructing a fancy elaborate house to be the "best". We just grabbed some icing, a few nutty-butter bars, and a bit of green icing for ice-cream-cone trees, and decided to keep it simple and just have fun. We didn't really have a plan at all. Lo and behold, on Sunday morning they announced the Petersen's house won First Place. We were tickled pink. But our "win" paled in comparison to the elation we experienced on Friday night as we joined our Iraqi friend at our table and shared the Christmas joy of being part of a family.
I had a friend tell me last week that Christmas isn't the time of year to be concerned with the tinsel, the garland and the wrappings..."it's about the heart". The heart that cares about others. The heart that reaches into a pocket and drops the change one has into the kettle in front of most stores. The heart that sacrifices one's own pleasures to give pleasure to others. The heart that pulls an angel from the tree and purchases items for needy families who have no one to play Santa. The heart that says "Thank you, Jesus, for leaving the grandeur of heaven and coming to earth to save us from our greed and selfishness. Instead of demanding the best, You accepted the least." And the "least" is enough when we have the Father dwelling within our hearts. May we live like we believe that this year.