Contentment Friday: A Meaningful Tradition to Replace “Black Friday”

Last year I was honored to share one of my family’s most important traditions on She Lives Free. This year I’d like to share it again in hopes that it catches on amidst the craziness of the ever more commercialized holiday season. 

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Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, and my laptop finally decides its long slow death march is finally coming to an end…  right as I sat down to make my deadline for submitting this very blog for publishing. Lovely. So we pile the family into the car and head over to Best Buy, to buy the family computer we were planning to acquire in the next week or so anyways. As we make our way to the front of the store, what should come into view? A line of patrons and their tents, already camped out for the upcoming Black Friday sale. My heart actually dropped in my chest. Really? THIS is what we’ve come to now? Not only are we opening more and more stores on Thanksgiving day and beckoning them away from their family tables with $9.99 Elmo dolls and discounted Playstations, now we are setting up metal crowd control fencing to contain the line of people camping out in a parking lot days before the sale even starts? It was all I could do but desperately hope my kids didn’t ask about what they were seeing, cause I was tempted to tell them that some very silly grownups were playing “lets pretend we’re on an explorer expedition” and had brought their fun campsite toys to add to the overall effect. And Im not sure how convincing that really would have been.

You see, my children don’t know about the insanity now known as “Black Friday.” Crazy, I know, but my husband and I made a choice some years ago that we would commit to abstain from Black Friday and the total circus it’s become. I hated the idea that we would gather over a Thanksgiving table on Thursday, and profess our great gratitude for all God has given us… and then run out the door so soon after in an panicked rush to “buy all the things!” It simply doesn’t compute for me. So we decided that Black Friday would cease to exist for us, and in its place a new holiday was born: Contentment Friday.

Contentment Friday isn’t just a sweet little term we’ve coined to excuse missing out on the cheapest shopping of the year. No, Contentment Friday is quite possibly second only to Christmas in terms of holiday importance for our little family. It’s a BIG deal around here. The basic premise is simple: in order to focus on our hearts and minds on the idea of contentment, we abstain from spending money in any way, shape, or form on that Friday after Thanksgiving, and we instead fill the day with family centered activities in our home. We stock up on all groceries and essentials in advance (to ensure we never have any reason for unexpected spending,) we block off the date on our work calendars as a holiday, and we prepare to spend the whole day celebrating as a family. This year will be no exception. We’ve bought cinnamon rolls to bake for breakfast, stocked up with some great new board game options, made plans to cook our favorite bacon appetizer and devour it during a family screening of Stars Wars: A New Hope (my 5 year old is especially excited about that one,) and we have all the supplies to bake sugar cookies to frost and decorate. We never feel like we’re missing out, because Contentment Friday is usually one of the fun filled days of the holiday season for us.

contentmentfridayquoteOn Saturday, we continue the fun celebrating our official opening day for the Christmas season. By abstaining from anything Christmas related while we’re still focusing on a season of gratitude and contentment first, we get to experience a whole day dedicated to welcoming the yuletide season into our home. This is the day each year when the Christmas tree goes up, the holiday music finally gets played, the decorations come out, and those great claymation classics like “The Year Without a Santa Clause” are screened. And Im pretty sure we drink more cocoa then the rest of the year combined. Best of all, our hearts are truly prepared for the fullness of Christmas’ joy because we’ve really given heed to the gratitude from which it springs. Simply by being intentional in recognizing all we have to be thankful for, we find ourselves content with the life we already lead, and this in turn births an abundance of joy in our hearts – the very joy that the Christmas season should ultimately be about: not a quest for more things, not a stressful march to simply get through this season with what sanity we can manage, but a season of joy to the world and peace to all men.

My heart’s dream would be to see Contentment Friday take hold in more families then just our own. Imagine the impact it would have on the retail world if even half of Black Friday demand just simply went away? There wouldn’t be a need for crowd control fencing or a website to track the Black Friday death toll each year (oh, how I wish that wasn’t a real thing,) and perhaps some stores wouldn’t even be able to justify calling in all those of employees away from their families without all these customers clamoring for their attention. Because the hidden truth of Black Friday is this – it’s not the retailers’ faults; we have nobody but ourselves to blame. If the demand wasn’t there, the stores wouldn’t have a reason to continue the craziness any longer. So the power is ultimately ours. Nothing battles the current of consumerism more than the value of contentment. When our hearts are focused on being content, we see the virtues of the life we already live and the numerous blessings we already possess – and suddenly no amount of discount seems high enough to give that up to go sleep in a Best Buy parking lot.

 

The War on Thanksgiving

War on ThanksgivingThe War on Christmas is getting its yearly spin in the news cycle, from the rampage over red cups to the horror over “happy holidays.” Every year these tirades take over our national dialogue once more; it’s as predictable as clockwork.

Yet we never hear about the War on Thanksgiving.

Where is the hashtag campaign complaining not that Starbucks isn’t Christmassy enough, but rather that its Christmassy the minute of Halloween’s end?

Where is the outrage that a holiday once hallmarked by a family gathered for dinner is now celebrated in the parking lot at Best Buy, holding place in the Black Friday line up?

Where are the news pundits railing about a national culture tearing away more and more at the traditions of a holiday we once held dear – a holiday once marked by conservative values like gratitude, contentment, and the closeness of family?

While the world is debating the merits of this supposed War on Christmas, Thanksgiving is waving the white flag and quietly succumbing to its defeat. And yet no one seems to care.

What can we expect to teach a generation who are growing up in a world where Thanksgiving has all but been replaced with a season that can only be described as “pre-Christmas?” How can we ask them to eschew a culture of entitlement when the Christmas toy catalogs are showing up the week of Halloween and commercials are beckoning them to make lists to Santa before the leaves have even left their fall branches? Are we really prepared to raise children in a culture where a season devoted to the art of gratitude has been replaced instead with a wanton consumerism that threatens to consume us all?

Instead of adding to the tirades about “holiday trees” and politically correct window displays, consider taking a stand instead for Thanksgiving. What better way to put Christ back into Christmas than to spend November focusing on gratitude and preparing our hearts for the season yet to come. The way to experience the fullness of Emannuel, God With Us, is to experience the season of anticipation before Christmas comes on the scene. Thanksgiving prepares us for the coming King – where hearts lined full of thankful prayers take the place of a manger filled with straw. When we skip over Thanksgiving, we find ourselves unprepared to receive the holy child, as if we have no room in the inn of our hearts and minds.

Forget the War on Christmas. Who will fight back for Thanksgiving?

I See Christ in the Red Cups

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In my humble blogger opinion, this year’s red cups are the MOST Christian Christmas cups Starbucks has ever designed.

Yes – you read that correctly.

I see a cup where they have stripped away all the snowmen and penguins in holiday scarves. Santa is nowhere to be seen. All of the holiday trimmings and distractions have been removed, and we are left with a blank slate. A simple cup of red, as bare and plain as the stable that housed the newborn Lord on Christmas night. Simplicity – a beautiful stand for the heart of Christmas in the midst of a world who seeks to distract us from that holy night.

I see a cup of scarlet red, like the saving blood of the savior who came to earth to die for the creation He desperately loved and pursued. Without the message of His death, we miss the purpose of His birth.

Most importantly of all, a cup that leaves room for everyone at the table is the very embodiment of what Jesus called us to be. We serve a Savior who called Jews and Gentiles alike, and who saved His scorn not for the people who represented a different culture, but for those who misrepresented His. Jesus never commanded us to loudly fight for our rights as Christians, but rather he called us to lay down our own rights in the name of bringing the gospel to those who don’t yet have a place in His family.

I Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV)

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

I see Christ in bare red cups.
#MerryChristmasStarbucks