Driving to work today there were a lot of reports of Black Friday mayhem, including stories of people spraying others with pepper spray, all to get a cheap TV. Seriously people? For reals? I honestly, truly hate Black Friday. Maybe it was because of the many years of retail I worked. Maybe it is because I really, really, really am not a fan of malls, or, really, people for that matter. Whatever the reason, for me, today is probably one of the ugliest days of the year. And more so because this day follows one where we are supposedly giving thanks for what we have. Now, with Black Friday starting on Thanksgiving, we are turning a holiday of gratitude into one where we dwell on what we don’t have yet. Or maybe I hate the holiday because it reminds me of the ugly I can find in me. I am just as guilty of falling into the trap of focusing on what I want to get and not what I already have.
So fast forward to this afternoon when I was walking down the hall at work and stopped to take a look at the G.I.V.E.ing tree. Kind of like your average angel tree, just all secular for the work place. Most years you will see requests for toys, electronics and children’s games. A leaf would have written on it, a doll for girl, age 8 or Xbox game for boy, age 12. Something nice, for someone who can’t afford such things for themselves or their loved ones. This year, the majority of requests are for supermarket gift cards — $25 for a family. Damn, that was a kick to the gut. I can complain about not having the latest fashions or the most advanced electronics, but I need to be grateful that I have never been in the position where all I wanted for Christmas was $25 of food.
I joke about walking into the grocery to pick up a gallon of milk and walking out with $100 worth of groceries that I did not know I needed. I am sure you have too. It could be the local grocery, drugstore or big box chain where we tell the tale and roll our eyes. But at least I (and I am going to presume you) had the $100 to pay. And for that, again, I am grateful. So today, I took a few of those leaves and will bring them with me when I hit my local Safeway on the way home. I planned on running in to pick up some oranges and milk, and figured I was going to inevitably walk out having spent $100. But at least this time, I will know it will be $100 well spent.