For Christians there is a “Good Friday” – the day that Jesus Christ died to save people from their sins.
For retailers there is a “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving where stores open extra early enticing shoppers to come in and save their bottom line for the year.
In 1997, the day before Thanksgiving, my grandmother – Nana – died. We had a quick Thanksgiving dinner with my dad and his wife, dropped them off that afternoon to be picked up by his sister, and then drove to my mom’s to be with her and prepare for the funeral that would take place on Saturday.
My wife and I found ourselves free for a couple of hours on that Friday so we decided to go to the mall and walk around, maybe do a little Christmas shopping.
I’ll attribute it to my grief about my grandmother that it didn’t occur to me that it was Black Friday. We found a parking spot near the front door – so we weren’t yet tipped off that it was the busiest shopping day of the year.
But once we were in the mall, it hit us full-on. We were in the middle of a tsunami of people.
But it wasn’t that bad. We weren’t there frantically searching for presents. We were there just to get away from thinking about my grandmother and our first Christmas without her.
Honestly, I’ve never had a problem with Christmas shopping. I don’t mind mall crowds. I seem to find extra patience at this time of year. I like to watch people and interact with them. And at this time of year I like to share the peace of Christ to those who are Christmas shopping. I find a way to smile at the clerks and at the shoppers and I always say “Merry Christmas” to anyone who gives me an opening to do so.
Christmas shopping is special to me. I try to find just the right gift from the people I love. I don’t always succeed (thank God for gift cards!) but I enjoy the hunt for them.
One of my favorite places to go Christmas shopping is Water Tower Place on North Michigan Ave. in Chicago. They have unique shops in a unique seven-story setting with glass elevators in the center of the mall.
Sometimes I bring a bottle of bubbles with me, go to the seventh floor and blow bubbles over the railing and watch them drift up and down on the air currents. People who are pretty stressed out from their shopping will sometimes stop as, out of the corner of their eye, they catch a bubble drifting down. They then shuffle over to the railing and stand, mesmerized, for a few minutes of peace in a hectic day.
That’s just another way I can share the peace of Jesus with some stressed out Christmas shoppers.