Black Friday, Boxing Day, and the Forgotten Few

Consider what you’ve been given, and what you have to give.

Each year in nursing school we get the opportunity to increase our skills and our nursing knowledge through this thing called practicum. It’s a clinical rotation in different areas of nursing so that we can gain experience and get a feel for the variety of areas nurses can enter.

My current clinical rotation is in a home care office in a small town, and many of the people I see are homebound, elderly, and adorable in a quaint, old person sort of way.

Over the past four weeks of spending each day with these people, I begin to know their stories. Stories of bravery and strength and accomplishment and memories and legacy. These are people who have seen so much and done so much, and are now able to rest after many years of hard work.

However, they are also broken people who live in a broken world, just like the rest of us. They are people who have endured divorce, stillbirths, loss of jobs or homes or limbs. They have seen storms and wars and poverty and heartbreak. They have clawed their way up from the dark depths of depression, persevered through the loss of a beloved spouse, and overcome illness and disease to make it to their old age, a time when they should be celebrated and given the chance to pass on their wisdom.
But now many of them sit at home, alone, waiting for the home care nurse to come by because she’s the only person they see all week.

It breaks my heart.

These people, these wonderful, hilarious, adorable people, are forgotten by the society they poured their lives into. They are forgotten by the families they raised. They are forgotten by people who could learn so much from them, yet prefer to ask Oprah or Dr. Phil rather than their own grandparents.

Some of them have homes that first-time homeowners today would frown upon, saying that they’re too small or too dirty or in too grungy of a neighborhood.
Some of these people don’t have homes at all.

Some of them have appliances and furniture that today’s newly married couples would throw into the dumpster, saying that the colors don’t match the carpet, or the hum is just a bit loud.
Some of these people don’t have furniture at all.

Some of them wear clothes that would make the people on “What Not To Wear” cringe and cry.
Some of these people don’t have warm winter clothes at all.

Consider what you’ve been given, and what you have to give.

I drove home from clinical, a 35 minute commute, processing my day, thinking about the people I’d seen and the things I’d done, while letting the radio play softly in the background. I was enjoying a few well-needed moments of peace when all of a sudden my radio blared, “Black Friday! It’s coming! And prices everywhere are slashed…..”

My moment of stillness was shattered. I switched off the radio to continue my silent little reprieve.

But the words from the advertisement kept running through my head.

Black Friday.

A day when advertisements and sales abound, shoppers line up for hours outside stores to get the best deals, and people break out into fights over merchandise and goods.
Some stores in the United States are even opening at 8:00 pm or midnight the night before to let shoppers get in as early as possible.

That, in my head, sounds a little similar to Boxing Day. A day when shoppers hit the stores, flooding parking lots and filling shopping carts with incredible deals

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good deal. I rarely buy anything unless it’s on sale, and even then try to get the most for my money. And I don’t deny that on Black Friday and Boxing Day, which are among the top shopping days in North America, people find incredible deals.

But the thing that’s been troubling me and making me ponder is that both of these days come immediately after holidays that are apparently some of the most important to us as North Americans.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are often times to spend with family and friends, relax, eat a lot of good food, maybe play a few games, be appreciative of what we have and what we have been given, and show our love for each other.

To me, Thanksgiving is a time to recognize and be thankful for all that we have been given.

To me, Christmas is a time to celebrate one of the greatest gifts ever given, that Christ came to earth to become one of us and provide us with a means of redemption.

They are beautiful holidays.

And then the very next day, we seem to forget all the beauty and appreciation and love we showed on the holiday. We head for the mall, or the hardware store, or the furniture outlet, to buy ourselves more on top of what we already had or already received.

Why would we, the day directly after Thanksgiving, or even hours after our turkey dinner was eaten, go to buy more things because we claim we didn’t already have enough?
Why would we, the day directly after Christmas, go to buy more things because we claim we didn’t receive enough over Christmas, or that we need more?

Boxing Day was traditionally a day when members of the merchant class in the nineteenth century would give boxes of food, clothing, fruit, and/or money to their servants as a display of gratitude. Also, churches would open up their alms boxes and distribute the contents among the poor.

It used to be a day of gratitude and giving.
Now, it’s a day of selfish spending and credit card debt, our thankfulness and our appreciation forgotten.

Remember those old people I mentioned earlier? They sit forgotten on those days too.
I can’t help being amazed that we as a society care more about the newest iPhone than we do about the poor, the “forgotten,” and the oppressed.
I can’t help thinking that if we spent less money and time on ourselves and gave more of our money and time to others, our society wouldn’t be as broken as it is.
I can’t help thinking that Jesus, when he walked on the earth, spent his time defending the weak, providing for the poor, and rescuing the brokenhearted.

Why don’t we follow his example instead of following the crowds?
Why don’t we give out of our abundance (2 Corinthians 8:14) rather than seeking to have more?
Why don’t we be thankful for the life we have (Psalm 16:9-11) rather than always wanting something different?
Why don’t we support those around us (Galatians 6:2) rather than wanting more things around us?
Why don’t we build up treasure in Heaven (Mark 10:21) rather than trying to build up treasure here?

“… By this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35b)

Consider what you’ve been given, and what you have to give.

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