It’s that time of year again. Perhaps you’ve felt it? The sudden urge to empty your wallet at the first sight of a red sale sign. The force is strong with the retail industry during the holidays, and early forecasts have indicated that this year should expect to see an even stronger holiday season for retailers.
For a solid month, consumers like you and me will be attempting to exercise as much restraint as possible as we pack into parking garages, bustle along shoulder to shoulder with strangers to the tunes of holiday classics and fill our bags with gifts for friends and family.
But there’s one day in particular that will grab all the headlines: Black Friday.
The infamous day of supposed super sales tends to sharply divide your average, run of the mill Christmas shopper from the elite, Seal Team 6 level holiday consumer. It’s a day that requires intense training for an early rise and enough stamina to make it through a grueling day of standing in lines and fighting for parking spots.
So is it really worth your time and effort? Well, that’s up to you – if you can find some good deals and have fun with friends and family in the process, then more power to you! But if you’re teetering on the fence, consider these alternatives for how you can spend your Black Friday.
It should be noted that these steps are skewed towards people who are not working retail or other jobs on Friday morning. To you all, well…we salute you. Consider visiting these Scripture Playlists to prepare you for your ordeal.
If you’re one of the 83.6 million Americans who are considered by the CDC to be sleep deprived, consider doing yourself a favor and taking any opportunity that comes your way to catch up on some z’s. If you’re fortunate enough to have the day (or at least the morning) off on Friday, it could do you a lot of good to get a full night’s rest instead of decreasing your body’s recovery efforts and increasing your anxiety.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Psalm 127:2 ESV
From a Biblical perspective, sleep, rest, calmness, and being generally free from worry are spiritual qualities that should be sought after. “Anxious toil” can certainly be descriptive of the holiday season for many of us – trying so hard to get everything done that we forget about God and what really matters. Try taking a break from all that for a day, and enjoy the comfort of your blankets.
#2: Get your life together
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV
The holidays are stressful enough as it is before adding a crowded mall parking lot. The time off can instead be used as a time to renew your mind – refocusing on what’s important, making goals for yourself, and generally experiencing the true joy the season offers.
What I like about this scripture is that it reminds me that it takes a focused, concentrated effort to get the patterns of the world out of your head and let yourself be renewed by God’s thinking. The holidays are a great time to do some deep dive reflection into your life, and honestly answer some real questions about yourself, such as:
- What are my priorities right now, and are those the priorities I want for my life?
- Who are my closest relationships, and how much have I been pursuing being close to them?
- What are the sins or character challenges that have been dogging me, and what can I do to address them?
- What ways do I see God calling me to grow in my life, and how do I feel about it?.
#3: Grab quality family time
Everyone should take care of all their own people. Most important, they should take care of their own family. If they do not do that, then they do not accept what we believe. They are worse than someone who does not even believe in God.
1 Timothy 5:8 ERV
Commercials make holiday shopping feel so urgent and important that we can ironically put distance between us and the very people we’re trying to encourage with our gifts. If your time with family is especially limited (family visiting from out of town, work schedule typically demanding, etc), you might be better off downgrading the gift and upgrading the quality time.
If you need some ideas for how to create quality time with family, I’ll refer you to this article for help in how to have a successful family dinner.
#4: Actually give thanks
Set out a sacrifice I can accept: your thankfulness. Be true to your word to the Most High.
Psalm 50:14 Voice
Know what’s easy to neglect on Thanksgiving? Actually giving thanks for stuff. All that tryptophan usually knocks us out before we realize that we forgot to be thankful for the very turkey that we just devoured. It happens to the best of us.
This is a challenging scripture because it teaches us that thankfulness is a form of sacrifice. That means we have to make an effort to cut out things we want to do in order to express gratitude. Becoming a thankful person is something we could all benefit from working on, and using a Friday to have conversations with God, family and friends expressing what we’re thankful for and reflecting on the things that have turned out well over the past year will actually make us better people.
#5: Do good
 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.  So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:8-9 NLT
Probably the one thing that we can all agree on is that during the holidays, if we claim to believe in God and desire to have a relationship with him that we should be a part of helping those whose November and December will not be as joyful. While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season (and we should certainly enjoy it), we’d be remiss as Christians to neglect our duty to imitate Jesus’ example in helping, serving, and healing others, no matter the circumstances.
I’ve poked fun at Black Friday throughout this article, but the truth is that there are plenty of folks who use the day to score bargain prices for gifts, and that’s fine. But regardless of what day we choose to shop and what we are planning as far as holiday festivities, we should all encourage each other to make a concentrated effort to love others and do good over the holidays. Whether you decide to volunteer at a food distribution event, carol at a nursing home, or any other number of activities available over the holiday season, decide not just to participate in a scheduled event, but make doing good a part of how you think and operate.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Project Doing Good – stories, resources and organizations all about doing good
- BACC Toy Drive – our annual toy drive supporting foster agencies in the Bay Area
- VolunteerMatch.org – find a volunteer event taking place in your area
- Warm Coats & Warm Hearts – donate a gently worn coat to help a person in need
- HandUp.org – donations to fight poverty