Have you noticed? More and more stores are opening their doors for Thanksgiving Day shopping
I found a link to a website that lists twenty-four national stores that will be open and twenty-four that will be closed. No longer will you have to wait in line all Thanksgiving night for that great deal at Target, Walmart, or Best Buy. <shrug> Come on in.
Memes from outraged family-oriented folk are popping all over social media, listing those stores on Santa’s naughty and nice lists. Among those refusing to cave are Costco, Sam’s Club, JoAnn Fabrics and Pet Smart.
It was bad enough for stores to open at crazy hours like 10PM to host holiday shoppers. Now stores are giving up entirely and staying open all day. In my neighborhood, that includes Dollar General, County Market and Walgreens. Save-a-lot, God bless ‘em, is closing because the manager feels, “Family is important.” He’s right on that.
So what do we do? Facebook friends are enthusiastically going to the mat. Let’s boycott the stores that stay open on Thanksgiving and blatantly encourage Black Friday shopping. Let’s patronize the stores who have the courage to keep their doors closed. If no one shops on Thanksgiving, the stores won’t open next year, right? But you know they will. We’re just a post-Christian society and people would rather be greedy than thankful. And so the talk goes.
Okay. Hit the pause button.
What would Jesus want us to do?
If this is the hand we are dealt, if this is the way our society is, what can we do that would actually make a difference?
Use every opportunity to proclaim Christ as Lord, my hometown minister once said. Just like Jesus and the woman at the well, I can view the open store policy as an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Besides hunkering down in your home on Thanksgiving, ignoring the open stores, here’s some things you can do to shine your light of faith in Jesus.
Recognize that some workers are needed on Thanksgiving. All workers are not feeding the Greed Goblin. We still need workers in hospitals, nursing homes, fire departments, and police stations. Travelers need gas stations and fast food restaurants. Even a few drugstores need to be open for those who need prescriptions or emergency medical supplies. Yes, people should plan ahead. But let’s be gracious.
Work with, not against, family members who have to work that day. It’s not their fault they are working. The decision was made for them. So pack an extra special lunch bag for them. Tuck in a few extra Snickerdoodles or piece of pecan pie to share with a co-worker. Be flexible on the time you serve the Big Feed.
If you are one of those called to work that day, pray before you go. Treat your work on this particular day not as a job, but as a service to others. Pray that God show you opportunities to do good to others, to do random acts of kindness, and to be kind and respectful to those overburdened with the cares of life.
Now it’s time to get creative—and fun!
Minister to the workers. What about taking a pie or plate of cookies to the workers of your local nursing home or hospital? Notice—I said workers. The residents and patients will get taken care of. Make the worker feel special and valued. If you plan to bring in homemade food, it might be helpful to know someone in the facility who will vouch for you. If you don’t have a contact person, consider bringing in wrapped store bought food items, non-food items, or envelopes with a gift card or cash for each worker—depending on what you can afford. If you involve several friends in your good deed, you can do even more good.
Do the same for your police and fire departments. Want to get really crazy? Take a plate of cookies to the workers at the Dollar General.
Be an anonymous helper at your local department store. If the weather is inclement in your neck of the woods, offer umbrella service to people hurrying from their cars to the door, put shopping carts back, tidy up a rack of clothing, or help elderly shoppers. Go to the layaway department and pay off someone’s layaway bill.
Be a blessing to those who are patronizing the stores. Pay for the meal of the people in the car behind you at the fast food drive through line. Pay for someone’s tank of gas while you are paying for your own. Buy a cup of coffee for that elderly gentleman sitting in the corner of the fast food restaurant. Better yet, sit with him and listen to his stories.
Serve your guests. Invite international college students to your home. Before you take them back to the dorm, ask if they need to go to Walmart or the grocery store. As you are able, pay for their purchases. “Huh? Patronize a store on Thanksgiving? But . . . I thought you were against . . .?” Swallow your opinions and use a situation you don’t like to bring about greater good.
Your turn. Be creative. What would work in your corner of your community? Oh, one more thing. Plan your response. If anyone asks why you are doing these things, say with a smile, “I’m so grateful for all that God has given me, I just wanted to share some of it with you.” Or, “I’m doing what I believe Jesus would want me to do. Happy Thanksgiving!”
Bottom line? Make Thanksgiving Day a day of service and good deeds. I do believe when we combine gratitude with goodness, we’ll create a Thanksgiving Day celebration we won’t soon forget.
If you do any of these ideas, I want to hear about it! Email me at email@example.com and tell me what God did with your goodness. We’ll feature your experience in a forthcoming Grace on Parade post.