Current mood: cantankerous
3:58 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and already cars are pulling into the Target parking lot in Pine Creek Plaza.
Here's my take on Black Friday: Screw it.
Here's my take on holiday shopping: Screw that, too.
I'm not planning to buy anything for anybody this holiday season. It really has nothing to do with not being able to afford to buy anything for anybody this holiday season. If I had a thousand $100 bills handed to me in a suitcase, I still wouldn't go on a spending spree. It'd be socked away, carefully meted out to make the right purchases at the right time, and/or donated to the right organization with the right need at the right time, the better to do good in this world.
I rather like birthday presents, anniversary presents, just-because presents, attaboy presents, and special events presents. But not Christmas, or whatever you wish to call "the holiday season". Christmas is a time for reflection on the deeper meaning of things, a time for getting right with one's conscience, The Lord, The Man Upstairs, whatever you wish to call Whatever or Whoever's In Charge.
A few years back, the church I was involved with at the time put on a Christmas play. The kids started rehearsing for this back in September or October. The basic plot was, of course, a morality play. Someone was stealing the meaning of Christmas, and making it all into an evil plan to subvert the message Jesus Christ was trying to get across to humanity. All in all, it was a fairly typical church message: Put Christ Back In Christmas. Probably 25,000 churches across the country do something like it every year.
The night of the final rehearsal, the weather was pretty nice for the middle of December in Western Pennsylvania, and the rehearsal had gone pretty well. We were getting done by 7:40 or so, well ahead of time. The kids had done a wonderful job, and the play director, who I'll call Church Lady, also had the part of closing the show and delivering a final morality message to the audience: "Put Christ back in Christmas." Then, not 15 seconds later, as the curtain was pulled, she turned to the adult stage hand nearest her, and said, "Hooray, it's only quarter of eight. Let's get the kids packed up and out of here so we can all get to Wal-Mart!"
Excuse me, Mrs. Church Lady, but you are a hypocrite. Where do you come off, telling people to put the Christ back in Christmas, and in the next breath, cannot wait to get to the store and take the Christ out of Christmas? Just what, exactly, are you teaching your kids? How can you look at yourself in the mirror? You're pretty good at reading lines in a play, but did it possibly occur to you that there might be some meaning in those lines you read? That might just possibly apply to you?
Screw Christmas shopping. No presents. No purchased presents, anyway. Nothing for anyone with a basis of oh-well-it's-Christmas-so-I'll-buy-item-X-for-person-Y. Especially when the "have-to" phrase is added. I just don't go there.
What WOULD Jesus do, anyway?