Turning Black Friday White

Many people are shopping today. Data show that some of them haven’t yet paid off the bills from last year’s shopping binges. But it won’t stop them from shopping more.

In the short-term, this is good for the economy and, by extension, for the rest of us. The long-term is a different story. But, as Americans are prone to do, we’ll deal with that if and when it becomes a problem.

I don’t need anything and I don’t know anyone who does, so I won’t be shopping today. It occurred to me, however, that that’s a problem. Why don’t I know anyone who needs anything?

Perhaps I know too few people. Or perhaps my sphere of personal interactions is too small.

I don’t feel the need to shop, but I do feel like I should have to shop. I feel like I should know someone who needs something.

In general, I think we’re either givers or takers. Most of us aren’t one or the other entirely; we’re a mixture of both. I have seen, however, people who seem to be 100 percent takers. I don’t find them to be attractive and have no desire to emulate them. But perhaps I’m more like them than I care to admit.

What I’ve learned over the course of my life is giving matters. It helps keep us grounded. It helps us maintain proper perspective. It nourishes our souls and makes us better people.

I used to think staying away from the stores was a good thing. That not spending was meritorious. But I’m no longer so sure.

When the Gift Arrives, Be Sure Not To Miss It

Early last Monday morning, at 6:08 a.m. to be precise, the following email landed in my inbox: “Let me know what you think of the book. – J.”

What book? I immediately assumed my dear friend J., whom I haven’t seen or spoken to for quite some time, had made a mistake. Surely this email was intended for someone else. Perhaps my name popped up from her contact list as she typed in a name that started with a G or C and she hadn’t noticed. That’s happened to me. So I promptly typed the following reply: “What book?” It seemed more appropriate than, have you lost your marbles?

I went to send the reply email, but a millisecond before clicking the send button, something gave me pause. It couldn’t be, could it? Continue reading