Friday, November 28, 2008

two tales

There are two stories in the news right now that has me thinking about the contrast between the two.

The first is a local story here in Denver (source). There may be similar ones around the country. It is about a couple who put an ad on Craig's List inviting anyone who didn't want to spend Thanksgiving alone to their home for a Thanksgiving meal. They had over 30 people respond to the ad. The couple decided that instead of picking a few, they would extend the invitation to all of the respondents.

When word got out about this couple's good will, food and chairs and tables were donated for the occasion. Last year at this time the couple was living in a donated tent camper after losing their business and home. They have been able to pull themselves out of the harder times into a modest townhome and minimal income. Still, they felt like they wanted to help out those less fortunate. And that, they did. Thirty plus strangers gathered in the small townhome to enjoy the food and fellowship that so many of us take for granted.

The second story tells us about the consequences of the frenzy of Black Friday, a day that is all about consumerism and materialism. In New York, an employee of WalMart was trampled to death by a horde of shoppers who stormed the doors (source). Once the employee fell to the ground, he was simply and tragically ran over by a crowd of eager shoppers. Others were hurt, including a pregnant woman.

My questions are; Did anyone not notice they were trampling over a body laying on the ground? Did anyone try to help this man up? Was that bargain worth this man's life?

I know the Friday after Thanksgiving has always been a huge shopping day, but I don't always remember it being called Black Friday. When did it get this name? How did it become such a frenzy for both the retailer and the shopper?

To be honest, I don't know what else to write. I don't want to offend anyone. I'm not saying that if you went out shopping on this day, that you're a bad person. I know many who love going out shopping on this day, and I would not think of judging anyone for this.

I'm just wondering how this all happened. I'd like to blame the retailers for inciting such a madness, but doesn't part of the responsibility need to be taken by the consumer? And I guess we can say that this year, it's the economy that's playing such a large role in our craziness.

There's no real point to this point except to write a commentary on the times we live in. There will always be the spirit of giving and caring. There will always be the reality of consumerism and the fact that we feel like we "need" something. Maybe the bottom line is that we need to figure out what we really "need."

It is a blessing that we will be able to spend the next holiday, Christmas, with our extended family in California. We're all looking forward to this trip.

Blessing #28 in a month's worth of blessings.


MightyMom said...

I like your post, and I feel so sad for that poor man. I was in a crowd once that was pushing through doors and I was literally swept off my feet, unable to steer myself by the crush of bodies all headed in one direction. It was among the worst experiences of my life and a big reason why I avoid crowds to this day (I was in college at "midnight madness" as the doors opened.) I can see how such a tragedy could easily, yes, easily happen. if someone had been on the floor in front of me that night I would have desperately wanted to help, and been TOTALLY POWERLESS to do anything. It's a form of mass hysteria and is intoxicating and frightening. And really, people. there are so many more important things in this life!

Penless Thoughts said...

Great post, Diana. Thanks for posting about the family in your area. Of course THIS did not hit the national news, just like the missionaries who were being attacked in India 6-9 days before the Bombay episode never hit the national news!!!!

I had just told Mickey that I hope this "episode" in NY stops the stores from doing the after Thanksgiving limited time sales. Let the stores put the items they have on sale period and not have to bunch up and rush in like madmen. This type occasion brings out the worst in people it seems.
I was not out there this year but my girls and I have been in the years past.

Just Mom said...

I have to admit that I haven't been keeping up with the news this past week. Thanks for sharing those stories.

I did come across this news item on cnn(dot)com. It restores my faith in people.

Lynne said...

I live close to NY so the WalMart tragedy is big news here. It seems many people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. I don't think this is how Jesus wants his birthday to be celebrated.

I had a similiar experience like Mighty Mom's many years ago. I was in high school and the fire alarm sounded and everyone made a mad dash for the doors and I fell to the floor. I remember seeing all those legs and feet trampling over me and being scared to death. Luckily someone pulled me up before I was seriously hurt.

Maybe these "Black Friday" sales are good for the economy, but you'll never catch me shopping on that day except online. I usually shop at off hours to avoid the crowds.

Karen said...

It was heartwarming to follow the story of the couple who invited everyone for dinner. And so appalling to hear of the incident the next day. On the news it said that customers were indignant when asked to leave the store, because the police wanted to close it due to the tragedy. Good grief.

Momma Roar said...

That first story is a wonderful one! I hadn't heard it so thank you for sharing.

The second one is such an awful picture of our nation and it's needs/wants placed over the value of kindness and patience.

Isn't it called black friday because the stores have always considered it the day they make enough to be on the positive side with their books and not be in "the red"? Unfortunately, these days, black is taking on a whole different meaning :(

I've gone shopping on black friday before, but didn't this year because of company coming fri evening. I don't try to be the first one, and I avoid the bigger crowds. I go out only if there is a big item I want/need and it is at an amazing price. Plus, since I'm making a lot of my gifts this year, I don't need as much from the stores.

Thanks for posting this - enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Christine said...

I don't understand why the store would allow such a large amount of people to amass at their doors and not have any type of crowd control out there. That must have been very frightening for the people caught between the crowd pushing and the door. It is fortunate that more people were not hurt.

My heart and prayers go out to the family of the employee that was killed. Christmas will always be a hard day for them.

That was an amazing thing for the family in Denver to do. It does warm my heart to know that there is still a lot of good in the world.

Jamey said...

Your first story is very cool. The second story is very sad! We did go shopping and it was kind of a waste of time for the first couple hours. I had already decided that next year I will go but not as early. Colorado was so much better to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. It wasn't even a comparison. Like I said I won't be doing it again that early. I'm not a push and shove, get my bargain at any cost kind of gal. But I do like to go. I can't even imagine what that man's (from Walmart) family will be feeling like this Christmas season. Very sad!!

Braja said...

Yep, it sure is sad that a country who devotes so much time to "giving thanks" can ignore the fact that to gives all this thanks it has to slaughter so many creatures to feast on, and not even think about that... whatever happened to "thou shalt not kill," and I'm sure that includes a poor man just trying to keep himself alive in the face of 200 damned fools too driven by their own selfish needs to even see that he was in trouble. I'm shakin' my head...shame shame shame...

But the story of the family in Denver was wonderful and heartwarming...that's what it's all about isn't it...

Anonymous said...

very good blog. I too was disappointed in people when I read the article in our local paper. I feel so lucky and I am so proud of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, their compassion for the many not so fortunate as they are.


Lori said...

I can't believe that either.
I think that is awful that people are that shopping crazy...and just plowed right over the top of the Walmart employee. All to get in on a great bargain.
I have never been a big Black Friday shopper. But I do like a good deal when I find it. I'm just not big on waking up early and fighting the crowds.

I think the story of the couple near you....opening your home to others for Thanksgiving is awesome.