It's that time. There have been so many commercials on TV lately calling out "black Friday" promotions it boasts that the only thought this time of year brings is an opportunity for manufacturers and retail chains to go for the biggest dollars they can while they can, and the public falls right in line. Banks want you to use credit and take loans and the manufacturers want to push their products. That is business, right? But many today are out of work if not homeless most profoundly due to greed of banking and lending institutions and the bludgeoning of the public by the oil industry which has dramatically "fueled" the outrageous increase in the overall cost of living. Of course many larger retailers have come accustom to the over inflated profits they use to make when times were "good", now feeling they too are hurting financially. Perhaps their profit per item was too high compared to value to begin with and now they can't sell enough to compensate. But lets be realistic; anyone who claims in addition to their income they "need" a quarterly or annual bonus of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars needs a reality check, not a bonus check. If major chain retailers can reduce prices as low as they do for black Friday, just how much of a profit is there or was there being made before on individual items in comparison to their cost and the value of what we purchase? Most ironic of all, this retail season is specifically meant to target Christmas, yet many retailers do not allow their employees to openly say "Merry Christmas".
A recent attempt by a charity group to acquire blankets with defects from ten manufacturers for those who have no means to keep warm this upcoming winter brought one response of refusal to donate from the most prominent of the ten manufacturers and the remaining nine refused to respond at all. During another public charity drive which took place outside local major supermarkets to collect non-perishable food goods for over stressed food banks, it was overwhelmingly clear that the greatest number of people who donated were those who had the least to give or who have experienced poverty in their past. Many local business owners offered nothing as they passed by. A gentlemen who owned a local "upper end" restaurant charging the highest prices for his foods in the community passed twice without so much as donating a can of peas while another who was unemployed purchased and donated two bags of non-perishables specifically to donate for the hungry. If every person who passed those donation tables donated just one canned or boxed non-perishable food item, there would have been more food for the hungry in their own communities than could have been stored for a year in the food bank alone. This is reality, not fiction.
But as individuals, let us approach our shopping this year with the heart first. Suffering is all around us and for many it includes us or loved ones. The greatest gift is not the most expensive if our heart is open to those around us. Whether buying gifts for others or taking advantage of sales for yourself, let's think as we buy. Consider needs before the wants.
Let's use this season to help others who need it as well as share with those in our personal lives. Let's not buy to impress those around us or to show how giving we are but to express our love without seeking recognition and help those in their needs. For those in our personal lives who may not need much, Let it express our happiness for their being in our lives. Let go of the judgments we may place on others because we do not understand things they may have said or done in the past, but see them for today and what's left of our tomorrows. Use the heart and forget the ego. Thanksgiving is now and begins what should be the preparation of the celebration of the birth of Christ who gave the ultimate gift for you and and for me, yet His gift was not purchased but of Himself. Give from the heart to those in need and then to those who have... but to each out of the love of Christ.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'