Black Friday vs. Good Friday
Black Friday scares me. In high pressure shopping situations I contract serious F.O.M.O. F.O.M.O stands for Fear of Missing out. It is a syndrome marked by the fear that no matter where you are or what you are doing you are missing out on something better happening elsewhere. People experiencing F.O.M.O often check their Facebook’s obsessively and text messages making sure they aren’t missing out. Normally I am pretty good at being present to where I am, but when it comes to sales I get tense and have the fear that I am missing out. What if I am on the wrong aisle? What if the size I need isn’t available, or someone else has it in their hands? What if they run out of the deal? I always tell people that I have too much anxiety to do Black Friday shopping. I hate the competition of it all. I played soccer throughout high school and in rec leagues ever since. If you don’t know much about soccer, especially girl’s soccer, it is surprisingly a very violent sport. I played forward or mid fielder so I know how to work my way through a crowd toward a goal, but I don’t always do it nicely. I would hate for that “Sarah” to come out in a store as I made my way toward a sales item. I also hate to think that I would want “something” so much I would resort to that kind of competitive materialism. I don’t “need” anything so I would rather avoid the whole scene. Needless to say I normally avoid the whole Black Friday scene and go hiking.
This year I had no option but to brave the shopping center. I had to take my car in to get a much-needed repair. The only appointment they had was on a Friday. Because I don’t do the Black Friday thing I didn’t even think about the fact that it was Black Friday. I was running in a community “fun run” that morning so I got my car in really early. It wasn’t until I was dropped back at the car place that I realized all these other people were out really early and it hit me “Oh no, its Black Friday!” The car place is near a shopping center and I had an hour to waste before I could get my car so I had a choice to make. I could sit at the dealership or I could poke around a store. I choose to go into a discount store that had no Black Friday deals. I figured it was my safest bet to avoid the mayhem. People were leisurely walking around the store no one looked desperate or determined and I was able to meander as I waited for my car. I noticed that the music overhead was Christmas music. I overheard one woman say in the shoe aisle “its officially the season- the music has begun.” The holiday season apparently kicks off with the start of Christmas music… but wait a minute that’s not how it is supposed to be.
I guess the real question is what season are we speaking about? The Holiday season or Advent? Both coincide, but I think there is value in seeing the difference. For us who are from traditional church backgrounds, we believe “the season” starts with the first Sunday in advent. Advent is a season of waiting and the word comes from the latin “adventus” which is translation of a Greek word meaning second coming. We are preparing not just for the story of Christ’s birth but to see the places where Christ has come and will come in the world. Despite what the chocolate calendars tell us advent doesn’t start on December 1 it starts four Sunday’s before Christmas Eve. There are four Sundays to advent and each Sunday is a preparation for the coming of Christ. Each church does it a little differently; but usually, there is the lighting of the advent wreath to prepare for lighting the Christ candle on Christmas Eve.
I have always wondered what it would be like to be part of a church community that doesn’t celebrate the liturgical seasons. For instance, at Christmas is it hard to get amped up for Christmas Eve if you haven’t been preparing for it with advent? What about Easter “He is risen” doesn’t seem as exciting if you haven’t gone through the season of Lent. I keep saying “good Friday” instead of Black Friday as I’ve been talking to friends and what I realized is that in some ways that makes sense. Good Friday that commemorates the cross fills me with feelings of mourning and so does Black Friday. I am sad that people resort to that kind of competition, I am sad that people are looking forward not to Christ but to gifts. I am sad that with all the presents we miss the presence of Christ. As for me I am going to enjoy this season not just because I love Christmas lights but because it is important for my heart to prepare for Christ and remember with Christ there is no F.O.M.O.