For some, the Christmas season actually began about 3-4 pm Thanksgiving afternoon when the stores opened for Pre-Black Friday sales. I have never been much of a shopper. Most of the people in my life receive gift cards because usually, I do not know what else to buy them and I want them to be able to get something that they not only like, but will actually use. True, I love receiving gifts as much as anyone. However, as I grow older, I enjoy gifting even more. There is great joy in getting to buy gifts (or in my case, gift cards) for friends and loved ones….experiencing the joy of giving! However, is this the true meaning of Christmas? Is the good news, hope and joy of Christmas solely surrounded by that special deal that you got on a 50” Flat Panel TV?
In recent days, I have read several news reports of people getting into fights in stores over Black Friday Sale merchandise. This has brought back recollections of a 2008 incident in New York where a Wal-Mart store employe was actually bum-rushed and killed when about 200 people rushed in the front entrance of the store in somewhat of a stampede. These people actually took the doors off of the hinges (in an unruly estimated crowd of 2,000 Black Friday shoppers). As if this unspeakable event were not amazing enough, it was said that only three people (out of the crowd of 2,000) were actually concerned enough to stop and assist with the care of the downed employee. As hard as it is to fathom, only three people of the 2,000 (1.5%) were actually willing to forego their super fantastic deals at the store in order to stop and assist the downed employee. Also worth mentioning is the Montgomery County (Maryland) Board of Education that recently removed all religious holidays from it’s school calendar (including Christmas). Really? Did these things really happen? Unfortunately, yes they did! So, this leads to asking the following question: has Christmas run amok? In view of the situation described above and many more horrible shopping related incidents that frequently occur during this time of year, has Christmas lost its true meaning? It is never our place to judge, but can this really and actually be happening? Can people actually be acting this way?
I believe that God wants us to enjoy the Christmas season and all of the events that go along with it (church, shopping, Christmas concerts, great times with family and friends, etc.). However, I also believe that God wants us to both experience, and to know the true meaning of Christmas. HE wants us to share the GODD NEWS that surrounds the birth of HIS son (and our Lord and Savior) Jesus Christ. HE wants us also to share the HOPE that surrounds our faith in knowing that Jesus did RISE from the dead on the Third Day and that Jesus will come again! Furthermore, we will see our deceased loved ones (family and friends) again one day. A friend told me a few days ago that she recently read a statement citing that there is only one TRUE BLACK FRIDAY where REAL SAVINGS occur! Think about it…how true this statement surely is! HE wants us to fulfill our mission and HIS calling for us by letting our light shine and for us to be an example to others in letting them see HIM in us by both our words and our actions….always, but most especially during this time of the year!
May you all have a GREAT Christmas! Enjoy the season! And, may you all experience the true meaning of Christmas!
Randy Brown is Publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org