Donating the Leftovers

We just traversed an interesting series of days that come around each year. It’s a deadly and expensive time. Most famously, we recently celebrated Thanksgiving Day. It’s a wonderful American tradition with copious amounts of food, long hours watching the NFL, and (oh  yes) giving thanks. When I was a kid, this is where it all ended. We had a long weekend, visited a few relatives, and went back to school on Monday.

Things have changed significantly. These days, we don’t have time to allow our massive quantities of turkey to digest. The very next day is a new holiday. Immediately on the heels of Thanksgiving comes Black Friday. It is, indeed, black—as a black cloud on the horizon and black clouds over our wallets. I spend quite a bit just on Thanksgiving. I don’t need an immediate follow-up to double down on my cash outflow. Nonetheless, there it is.

Black Friday is, apparently, the mother ofall sales. It’s called “black” because the retailers go from red ink to blackon their ledgers (at least, that’s one theory). Having once been a retailer,that was definitely true for me. Regardless of the origin of the name, it’s undoubtedlytrue that scads of dollars change hands on that day. Some of them are mine.

Subsequently, we barely have enough time to watch a little more football until we rush headlong into Cyber Monday. This is the online equivalent of Black Friday. We tally up all the money we spent on Black Friday, subtract it from the original total we were going to spend, and ignore the small remainder. Once again, we double down and fritter away our hard earned paycheck (not to mention a few future paychecks) on who knows what. We run up our credit card bills and hope for a Christmas bonus from our employer to cover our sins.

To Our Shame

To our shame (and our never ending sense of irony), all this is followed up by “Giving Tuesday.” Yes, you read that correctly—Giving Tuesday. Some of you have probably never heard of that new invention. I can’t remember ever hearing about it until the last couple of days. Now the term is all over the place. Giving Tuesday… Really?

After spending all our money (and more), weare now urged to ease our consciences with a little giving. As cynical as thewhole thing sounds, I’m very happy we actually have a day with that moniker.Unfortunately, I think we have it misplaced on the calendar. Giving Tuesdayshould fall two days prior to Thanksgiving (or maybe, ON Thanksgiving). Ifwe’re really going to give thanks, maybe we should show it by giving a fewdollars as well. Waiting until our fortunes have been exhausted is a tad backward.

All the charity pleas are beginning to pop up on our phones. I can just hear it now. “I can’t afford to give anything.” This may be the very meaning of the old phrase, “Give until it hurts.”

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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