The first…Black Friday 2011. I don’t like the name. The stores are all “in the black” that day, so the term is supposed to refer to turning a profit. But the name itself is neither pleasant, nor sunshine-y or rainbow-y. Not Christmas-y at all. For a day that has been christened in modern times as the “official start of the holiday season,” one would think they could come up with a name that is a little less…dark. Pinning the word “black” on a particular day has traditionally been reserved for disastrous times. But maybe that’s not so far from reality.
It has always been a big shopping day, but it seems to grow more rabid every year.
Especially this year. We have reached a new extreme.
The retailers are not even able to wait until 5 a.m. anymore. They simply could not refrain from pushing the envelope all the way back to midnight, as far as they possibly could without encroaching upon Thanksgiving Day. They say that they are just giving us what we want. But doesn’t your lovable pet come running to its food dish whenever you fill it up? If the food is there, he’s going to come and get it. He may be tired, he may be busy playing, but he just cannot take the chance of your other pet getting to it before he does. Survival of the fittest. Do whatever it takes. Get to that food dish in time.
I don’t think most Black Friday shoppers or employees really wanted to be in the stores at midnight. Notice the grim expressions in the above photograph. But because the deals were there, they felt compelled to run out and get them.
Like these people. Who rioted in a Wal-Mart over $2 waffle makers.
And you probably heard about the shopper who used pepper spray to fend off the competition in the X-box aisle in Los Angeles, injuring 20.
And the Target employee who was rescued when she accidentally drove her car into a canal after working the midnight shift, due to exhaustion.
Stories of gunfire, robberies, and other strains of out-of-control behavior abounded. Like that song that says, “In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas…Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile…”
Except on Black Friday.
I wasn’t there at the Wal-Mart where the waffle maker riot went down. But I can watch that video and imagine what it was like. A loud, stinky, rude, violent, disgusting, crowded, pushing, shoving, nobody-has-had-any-sleep, every-man-for-himself, get-out-of-my-way-or-I-will-destroy-you kind of unpleasantness. But hey, all those shoppers can now make waffles for cheap!
Something is wrong here.
Now let’s turn our attention to A.D. zero.
O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie…
Still. Ahhhh. Blessed stillness.
All the Bethlehemians are in their beds. All tired and worn out from the census-taking. It has been a busy day, but the sun has gone down and the candles have been snuffed out. Shhhh. No all-night census work here. We’ll finish it tomorrow.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.
They’re sleeping hard. The exhausted sleep of a people who have waited…and waited…and waited for the One who would save them. A people who suffered under slavery and wandered for years in the wilderness. A people who were oblivious to the “time of their visitation.” And just as the stars had twinkled overhead every night for centuries, so they did again. But this night, one of them shone brighter than the rest.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.
YET. That glorious, important word. All is calm, all is just as it had been for many years before. All is bright. It was not advertised. It was not trumpeted. There were no multitudes breaking down the doors of the stable in a riot to see their new king. It was a quiet, everlasting light that took on flesh and entered Earth. A light that has always been and will always be.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
That first Christmas was different. It was not what it has become, and it did not mean what Black Friday means. It was the intersection of every emotion known to man. It was the trading in of all we had dreaded…for all we had longed for. It was the greatest, costliest gift ever given, the fulfillment of our deepest need.
And the darkness trembled in fear before a tiny infant who would change the course of history.