A Black Friday Challenge

Black Friday will soon be here, the season of cooking and cleaning, decorating and shopping. While I love the holidays, I am not a fan of Black Friday. Black Friday is the day that leads to the holiday season, but to me, Black Friday is the least Christmas-y day of the year.

Years ago, I thought Black Friday was kind of fun, a day of shopping with family, eating out, just being together. But back then, stores didn’t open at three a.m., or on Thanksgiving Day. Back then, it was just a regular shopping day with built-in deals.

Today, it seems Black Friday has turned into more commercialism than I ever could have imagined. People climb over one another to buy the hottest new movie, and fight one another to get the latest toy.

I bet I’m not the only one who feels this way about Black Friday, like the clerks in the stores who have been up all night, the people who missed family time to stock merchandise, and even the shoppers who attend this crazy event – they don’t always appear to be in the best of moods.

Kind of like the men I saw a few years ago.

***

It was four in the morning. I stood in one of two long lines leading into an electronic store, shivering as I held tight to a cup of coffee. At the head of each line was a young man, glaring intently at one another. Finally, one spoke up.

“I was here first.”

“No, I was,” said the other. Like two little kids fighting over a swing, both determined to be the first in the store.

They began to yell and curse, and soon, fists were flying. Even when the large glass doors swung open, the men continued to fight. It was the craziest scene I’d ever seen.

Inside, it wasn’t much better. People pushed, grabbed, and yelled for others to get out of their way. As I stood to the side of one of the quieter aisles, the hand of an elderly woman hit my back, sending me into a large stack of boxes.

It was shocking, and dare I say, disappointing as well. If it hadn’t been for two kind strangers who took time to lend a hand, offer a smile, and say a few kind words, I would have lost my faith in humanity that day.

Those two people changed me, not just my view on Black Friday, but my view on society. I discovered how simple it is to change a life, how easy it is to affect another’s world.

It’s easy to lend a hand, if we dare to take the time. It takes seconds to offer a smile. One kind word can change a life.

I’m not against Black Friday, and who knows, I may still go out this year (though it will be long after the crowds die down). But this year, I’m challenging myself. I’m going to be a better shopper, not just Black Friday, but every day.

I’ll smile, say a few kind words, offer a hand when someone needs it.

I can’t change the world. But maybe, just maybe, I can change the world of one person.

Will you join me in my challenge?

Feel free to share this with others! Let’s change as many worlds as we can.

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Consumerism – An Age-Old Problem

Consumerism has been around for many years, from the first department store that opened in London in 1796, to the eight-floor department store built on a full city block in New York in 1862, to the mega malls we have today.

In the early 1900s, advertising stepped in, and in the 1920s, we were offered our first credit cards.

During World War II, we were taught, briefly, to be frugal. And when that was over, we were told to buy and consume. Since then, we haven’t stopped.

People that lived before us warned about a society of over-consumption, but we have failed to listen.

Confucius once said, “The Master said, ‘A true gentleman is one who has set his heart upon the Way. A fellow who is ashamed merely of shabby clothing or modest meals is not even worth conversing with.’ ”

Ghandi told us, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

And E.B. White stated, “To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”

My favorite quote is the following, “I think the enemy is here before us…I think the enemy is simple selfishness and compulsive greed… I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our land.” –Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t go Home Again, 1949

I think Wolfe is right, the enemy lives among us. He has destroyed our planet, taken our money, turned us into green-eyed monsters. He is sucking the life out of every creature.

Maybe it’s time we listen to the wise words of those who walked before us. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Consumerism won’t go away, after all, we need certain things to survive. But this excessive, compulsive shopping is getting out of hand. It’s time to stop, let go of what we don’t need, and cling to what we do. When we stop the insane spending, the constant consuming, we will find benefits we never knew existed. We will find benefits of a life with less. Like these:

1. Time with family.
2. Time for ourselves.
3. Time to volunteer.
4. Less time cleaning.
5. Less time organizing.
6. Less money spent.
7. More money for vacation.
8. More money for retirement.

Let’s use consumerism for what it was intended – to meet our needs. Let’s cut the shopping, and stop the enemy, before he stops us.

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