It's Black Friday and many of us have been on the hunt for bargains already this morning. Today's cultural phenomenon marks the official start to Shopping Season. Killer deals, unbelievable offers, mail-in rebates that make you feel like you're coming home with more money than you left with...it's all in store today.
So is generosity. Beneath our greed and consumer lust lies an invitation to spend on others. Each Christmas, for example, this usually frugal soul stretches a bit. I make concessions. I think about what my sister would appreciate and never buy for herself. I surprise my wife. I put off staring at our checking account balance until January (well, mostly).
And I see it in others. I'm as much or more of a recipient than a giver, and non-profits see spikes this season. Giving goes on everywhere, even in advertising.
Last year, I came across a TV commercial that promotes generosity in a memorable way. As it goes, "The Long Wait" is simply another in a myriad of consumer-driven, emotion-catching, way-too-early Christmas adverts, this one for the British equivalent of JC Penney, the London-based John Lewis. That doesn't seem to matter once the commercial makes its point. It's a well-told story. Small touches like a bouncing knee make it real. And it's honest in the way that you want the protagonist to be your own kid.
Shopping doesn't make us generous, and it certainly doesn't make good children. Plenty of living rooms will attest to this as they host the worst in us and our progeny on Christmas morning. But the True, Good, and Beautiful demonstrated here reminds me once again that Advent calls us to wait for the Christ and to act like him in the meantime. Enjoy "The Long Wait."