BEEP! Your alarm rings at four a.m. You spring out of bed and gobble a piece of pie for breakfast. Rushing into town, you hope to be the first in line. Tires squealing as you pull up to your destination, you see that the line of fellow sale-seekers already stretches the whole length of the store. Finally, the doors swing open. The mass pours in. You’re surrounded by buggy jams, swarming aisles, and coupons flying every which way. At last, you spot the item you’ve been hunting. Another shopper spots it too. There’s only one left. You race, jump, and dive!

It’s Black Friday.

Today, prices will be knocked so low that it almost seems criminal. More people than ever will get in their cars and hit the mall. You’ll probably never see Wal-Mart so crowded (except for Christmas Eve – maybe.) Despite all the hectic hubbub of Black Friday, which is nearly a holiday itself, there’s a deeper meaning. The day after Thanksgiving is more than the biggest shopping day of the year. It’s the official herald of a new season – a joyous season – the most wonderful time of the year! The thrillingly chaotic nature of Black Friday is like the entire Christmas season wrapped up into twenty-four hours.

As we all know, the upcoming season is about giving. Today, millions of people are doing just that. What makes me smile as I think of the multitudes, the deals, and the craziness of this day, is the fact that it is the busiest shopping day of the year, and it’s because everyone is shopping for someone else.

However, it’s hard to forget the economic state of our country – money is tighter this year. Many people feel as if they don’t have as much to give. Perhaps they wonder what they’ll buy their loved ones for Christmas. We must not become discouraged with thoughts like these. This season is about joy, but it’s not about perfect circumstances. This season is about giving, but it’s not about gifts. And as soon as the season becomes about money, we’ve missed the point.

Shopping is fun, but there are many ways to give besides taking advantage of all the hottest sales. Get your creative juices flowing, and give a gift from your heart. One Christmas my dad wrote a song for my mom. Last year, my mom promised to bake a batch of cookies each month for our pastor. This year, the adults in my family are exchanging service gifts rather than packages. You’ve probably read ideas like these before. With finances the way they are, I’m sure there are heaps of articles with low-cost present ideas. While they may all say the same thing, what they say is true, whether or not your money is tight. Giving of yourself is more valuable than any item you’ll find at the store. Give a gift that will last.

Even as we endeavor to come up with resourceful ideas for our own friends and family, we still risk losing the true spirit of the season. No matter how hard your life may be, there is someone out there who is worse off than you. This season is about giving – not just to your family – but to the person who needs it. After all, the true meaning of Christmas is all about God giving His greatest gift to a world of people who had absolutely nothing. Consider the person who may not have a family to spend the holidays with, and do something nice for them. Bake them a pie. There are many people right under our noses who don’t even have a home. Give them your spare coat. And let us not forgot those who are separated from their families for the sake of freedom. Send a card, a recent magazine, or newspaper to a service man or woman. Let these people know they are not forgotten. In doing so, we will be spreading the spirit of giving the way it was meant to be.

I hope you’re enjoying Black Friday. I hope you find all the deals you’re looking for. I hope you’re ready for Christmas music! I hope you overflow with out-of-the-box ideas that will save money. But most of all, I hope you remain joyful, peaceful, and content this season. I hope you remember what it’s really all about.

 

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