This year I’ve been trying to stop myself whenever I refer to the Friday after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday.” Sometimes it just comes out, but each time it does, I find that it catches in my throat. When the words tumble out, I pause and consider how the “biggest shopping day of the year” has gained status alongside the many other holy days of this season.
This is not a rant about consumerism. Full disclosure: I bought something last Friday. It was something I was planning to buy anyway but waited until that day so that I could save around $300. But even if that weren’t true, rants about “Black Friday” can often be steeped in a classism that ignores how important it is for many people to be able to spend less by taking advantage of sales.
There’s plenty to rant about when it comes to consumerism, but for right now, I’m more interested in how Black Friday has gained status as a high holy day in American culture. Even if no one actually refers to Black Friday as a “holy day,” what fascinates me is how we treat it as such. It even seems to have spawned a kind of holy week that moves from Thanksgiving to Black Friday to Small Business Saturday to Cyber Monday and, finally, to Giving Tuesday (or as I call it, “Constant-Solicitation-Email Tuesday”).
Between November and January there are countless holidays celebrated by religious and non-religious folks from every walk of life. In the Northern hemisphere, the changing seasons, the coming harvests, the growing darkness, and the winter stillness make these months feel perfect for reflecting on the important things in life. What we give our time, our attention, our energy, and our money to are reflections of what we have decided are holy and sacred to us. We can do this consciously or subconsciously, and so my feeble attempts to stop calling it “Black Friday” are meant to raise my consciousness about the ways I am being shaped by a culture in which my most sacred duty is to consume.
These are holy days, but it is up to us where we give our attention and where we direct our “worth-ship.” During Advent, we wait and we watch and we allow ourselves to be re-shaped by a culture in which our most sacred duties are to share hope, peace, joy, and love with the world.
Where are you finding holy moments these days?
Wherever that might be, I wish you the happiest of holidays.