Gray Thursday

Today is Gray Thursday, known in some circles as “Thanksgiving”.

Earlier today, I was driving from one relative’s house to another—through Austin suburbia—passed miles and miles of empty parking lots and darkened storefronts. It reminded me of a simpler time, a time when we weren’t such consumers, and could actually go a day without buying stuff.

But all of that is changing now. A few select stores have been open on Thanksgiving for years, giving workers a day off to be with their families before the most exhausting day of the year. Last year, many stores decided to begin Black Friday at midnight. Because they were met with such success, many stores decided to open on Thanksgiving evening this year—hence, Gray Thursday.

One of the leaders of Macy’s made it quite black and white: “Our midnight opening was so successful last year, so this year, we’re opening even earlier.” In other words, “We made a crapload of money last year (at the expense of our employees and their families), and we want more.”

I’m not here to condemn anyone; that’s pointless. I’m not so much concerned about people who go shopping as I am the sinful system where money is our primary motivator, and we’ll sacrifice things once held sacred to obtain more of it.

Rather than condemning people, we should grieve. Not because people are going shopping tonight, but because something is fundamentally wrong with our world. All is not well, all is not right. Denying this reality would be foolish, and trying to fight it is a waste of time. Instead, we can remember, we can grieve, and we can invite people to enter in to an alternative society that is free from the chains of mammon and consumerism. This alternative society is the Kingdom of God, and Jesus is the Door. Jesus is the answer to the pain that Gray Thursday brings to families.