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Black Friday CAN BE a Good Friday!

One would probably expect that a blog post coming from the Sisters of Providence with “Black Friday” in the title would condemn the blatant consumerism running rampant in our society.

While consumerism is definitely an issue, I have to admit that I LOVE BLACK FRIDAY. In fact, I have loved Black Friday even before it was given that crazy name and before stores started opening in the middle of the night.

First of all, the day itself is perfect — a Friday. Truly, you can shop ’til you drop because you have Saturday and Sunday to recover.

And like Thanksgiving, which helps us to remember the many blessings of our lives, the day after Thanksgiving as the official opening of the holiday shopping season, has always enabled me to focus on the people of my life, especially those I want to remember with a gift.

Black Friday isn’t about the shopping for me. Mostly, it is about being together.

In my family, my siblings pooled our resources and bought joint gifts for each other. How great to find just the right thing (and size) for a 6 foot-plus brother (and sister, now that I think about it). What a joy to find a bargain in the process!

Yes, it is crowded, but I also find joy in a whole host of people focused on finding gifts for others. I still believe that it is the thought that counts, and it is nice to be with others who seem to feel that same way.

I have had many companions over the years on my Black Friday treks. One of my favorite companion stories is that involving my dad, the first year after my mother died. Mom was probably my original Black Friday shopping partner, and so, my father, determined to be both father and mother for us announced he was going shopping with us the day after Thanksgiving.

Though a great sport, Dad was a lot less interested in looking than the rest of us and definitely happier to “buy something already.” At some point in the adventure, he told us he was headed somewhere on his own. We eventually found him sitting on a bench in the mall buried deep among the other folks seeking respite, contentedly reading his Sun-Times.

Lately, my niece, Beth, has provided the needed energy to get us out the door on the day after Thanksgiving. Often, her brother and my nephew, James, has been cajoled into going if we promise to leave him alone in the game store. Later in the day their parents have joined us, and we usually end up somewhere eating dinner to celebrate our triumphs or to groan about who is still left on our list.

Mostly, it is about being together. But you have probably figured that out by now. Black Friday is not really about the shopping. It has become, for me, an important continuation of Thanksgiving and a wonderful precursor of the coming Advent season. Giving gifts does not have to be a financial proposition, nor a perpetuation of a consumer culture. Whether I shop or not, I want to be a giver of gifts — whatever their form or cost.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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