Hiding from Black Friday

I am sitting in front of my computer, as opposed to standing in a checkout line at Walmart or anywhere else.  Not that I would mind having some of the ridiculous deals with which Black Friday shoppers are rewarded; I just won’t fight through a crowd for them.

Either it’s because I don’t have the guts, or just as likely, because I’ve got more of a gut than I did 24 hours ago.  Turkey.  Stuffing.  Gravy.  Sweet potatoes.  Green bean casserole.  Ham.  Pecan pie.  Pumpkin pie.  Pumpkin cake.  Yes, I ate all that, and more.  Sure, it was in small portions.  But at 8 million calories per portion, it adds up.  And let’s face it, recovering from food coma isn’t that conducive to anything above minimal physical activity.

Including shopping.  On Black Friday.

I’m usually pretty intentional about consumption, whether in terms of what I eat or what I buy.  Some months ago, for example, I made a decision to eat a real salad (not fourteen and a half shreds of iceberg lettuce with 400 calories of dressing gooped on it) every day, and have kept to that pledge with few exceptions.  Hence the food coma: I’m just not used to that kind of eating, as my digestive system made a particular point of reminding me.

So I have to confess: when it comes to Black Friday, I don’t completely get it.

Part of that, I’m sure, is that I already live an incredibly privileged life, even if I don’t think of myself as rich.  I have a home and a stable job.  I could buy an iPad or a Blu-Ray player if I wanted to, without having to pay by installments.  By world (if not American) economic standards, I am the 1 percent.

But I think there’s more to it than that.

For example, I don’t understand the mindset of what Bill Petro, in a tongue-in-cheek blog post on the history of Black Friday, has dubbed the principle of carpe item: “seize the sale offering.”  In other words, as you troll the aisles, if you find something at an incredible price, don’t think about it, just throw it in the cart.  You can always sort things out later, right?

It’s just a reminder that a certain kind of retail madness can take over our brains as the Christmas shopping season officially begins.  It’s infectious, and it’s worth stepping back to think more clearly about what we’re doing.

Advent nears, and my prayer is that deep meditation on the miracle of the Incarnation can seize our imaginations instead.