Friday, November 29, 2013

The Twelve Days of Black Friday

I am not a fan of Black Friday.

The concept could disappear completely, and as far as I'm concerned, the world would be a better place. The idea of whipping shoppers into a buying frenzy and then having them compete for limited quantities of items demonstrates, in my not-so-humble opinion, a bit of flawed logic. News clips this morning showed people panicking as crowds pressed against doors and customers fighting over items in the stores. There was one news video showing aggressive shoppers being arrested at the flat screen TV pallet as fights broke out. Who wouldn't want to be part of that?

My Black Friday protest is simply to stay away from the stores. Unfortunately, Black Friday is no longer a is a concept that spreads across many days. Part of me is encouraged at the thought that maybe we are seeing the death of the traditional Black Friday, but then I wonder if we haven't simply found a way to extend the mayhem.

I spent part of Thanksgiving day relaxing and cooking for a family gathering with the SyFy Channel's James Bond marathon playing in the background. Almost every commercial break, the same ad played, "Don't worry! Black Friday isn't over yet!!" How odd!! My initial reaction was twofold. First, technically, "Friday" had not even started yet! Of course it wasn't over! Second, of all of the issues that had worked their way up my worry list, missing Black Friday wasn't one of them. This commercial, for me, served as an overplayed reminder that Black Friday has now escaped the traditional definition of "Friday" and has taken over a larger chunk of the calender.

Given that I hear a lot more about doorbusters than Christmas, it occurred to me that the 12 Days of Christmas may have been replaced by the 12 Days of Black Friday. If that is the case, then allow me to offer the following:


On the twelfth day of Black Friday, my retailer brought to me....

Twelve shoppers fighting
Eleven backed-up checkouts
Ten fists a swinging
Nine five-buck toasters
Eight bait-and-switches
Seven cops arresting
Six maxed-out Visas
Five connecting crock pots!
Four empty pallets
Three tired kids
Two loads of stuff
And a doorbuster 'neath the Christmas tree

Happy Thanksgivukkah, everyone!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mama Carmen (Photo Essay)

I've been thinking a lot lately about Mama Carmen.

We met in 2006 in a HiperPaiz store in Guatemala City. Many years before, her son had gotten in trouble and disappeared, and she promised God that she would spend her life caring for unloved children if He would bring back her son. It is a long and amazing story, but the son was miraculously returned, and Mama Carmen began keeping her promise. When that son was dying a few years later, he made Mama Carmen promise that she would never stop caring for children. She has spent her life keeping her promise to God and to her dying son.

Mama Carmen was facing some big problems in 2006. One night, she argued with God, telling Him that this was His ministry, that she was only His instrument, and that she never knew there would be so many kids and so much need. She went to sleep and had a dream. She saw a face, understood the name "Joe," and understood that "help would come through this man." She saw me the next day in HiperPaiz, and recognized the face. She sent two girls over to ask me if my name was "Joe," and that was the start of a great friendship for which I am profoundly grateful.

There is a much longer version of the story, but that is enough for now. Mama Carmen has faced a lot of struggles lately, and she could use your prayers.


Judith and Dorcas in HiperPaiz - The day I met Mama Carmen