I am writing most of this on what is now – to me, inexplicably – called ‘Black Friday’, the day after Thanksgiving.
This year, some $400-Billion to $450-Billion will be spent on holiday shopping and holiday related purchases; travel, in spite of the recession, unemployment, etc. – booming; hard for me to see what’s “black” about it, in general.
Of course there are (always) people bringing up the rear economically, some chronically; others temporarily experiencing adversity; and I think I do my part for those in the latter group.
Locally, where I live, I contribute significantly to a ‘Baskets Of Hope’ privately run charity, that provides food, toys, clothing, etc. to needy families; I contribute to two food banks – I think everyone who can should, in some way, reach out to those with needs and difficulties.
Anyway, this was once a very special Friday, when it seemed everybody in this area trekked to downtown Cleveland, for the arrival of Santa at one department store, Mr. Jingaling at the other, tree lighting on Public Square.
I recall wood-tread escalators in the department store. Prior to this Friday, not a hint of Christmas decoration or merchandising was seen anywhere. The start of the season was really an event.
Somehow, the substitute of standing outside Wal-Mart at 5:00 A.M. after Christmas stuff has been all over the place for weeks pales by comparison and fails to interest me. Too much “special” has been taken away from “special occasions” for my taste.
Every year about this time, as I bump into Santa in a shopping mall, I think about Glenn Turner’s Santa Claus story. It’s one of the best success parables ever crafted or told, told by him much more artfully than I’ll summarize here.
He told of being a boy in a very poor family, and each year asking Santa for whatever his cousins (in a much better off family) asked for.
One year a pony; they got a pony; he got hand-me-down clothes and apples.
The next year, thinking he was erring, he carefully copied his cousin’s letter to Santa word for word, asking politely for a bicycle. His cousins got bikes; he got hand-me-down clothes.
Then he tells of going out behind the barn, with tear-filled eyes, but a rage-closed fist raised to the sky as he said, “Okay Santa, if that’s the way you want to play it.” And then he says he set about being his own Santa Claus.
Hopefully the points are obvious: most people childishly rely on others to give, to appoint, to authorize, to promote, to grant permission, to set their life agendas for them.
Only a comparative few accept full and total responsibility to be their own Santas and grant their own requests. To take matters into their own hands.
There isn’t any fat guy in a red suit coming down your chimney to bring you that Porsche you’re lusting after or that fat retirement account that’ll guarantee your security.