I looked around at all the packages in the post office.

They were everywhere. They were stacked on piles on the floor, piled in bins and up on countertops ready to be sorted.

On top of thinking, wow, those people at the post office have some long days ahead of them, I couldn’t help but wonder if most of us aren’t hypocrites.

Every year people talk about the “real” meaning of Christmas.

Facebook is littered with posts people share about this being Jesus’ time of the year.

We complain about commercialism while standing in lines on Black Friday, sharpening our elbows and ready to go to combat.

Don’t get me wrong, I like gifts. In fact, I encourage everyone reading this to add me to your list. I don’t need much, just chocolate.

We talk about celebrating the season for the right reasons, so does that make buying gifts the wrong reason?

No, I don’t think so.

I don’t think praising Jesus and celebrating low, low prices are mutually exclusive.

The problem arises when the shopping season is all we care about or what we care about the most.

According to infoplease.com, “The term Black Friday was first used in the United States to describe a financial crisis in 1869. On Sept. 24, 1869, a Friday, James Fish and Jay Gould tried to take over the gold market in the New York Gold Exchange.”

The financial crisis is probably still true for some shoppers.

The first time Black Friday referred to shopping the day after Thanksgiving was in a 1961 Philadelphia public relations newsletter, and by 1975 it was part of the regular vernacular.

Maybe Black Friday hadn’t reached the Midwest by 1975, or my family ignored it, but I did not hear of it until I was an adult.

I realize I’m getting older (107 in newspaper years), but when I was growing up, shopping didn’t really start until December, and it was not an all-consuming event. People shopped for Christmas gifts after Thanksgiving, but there was no rush to get to the stores the day after.

I have been out on Black Friday with my family, more to see what it was like than to get some great deal.

That was years ago, and that was enough.

I don’t mind shopping, but it’s usually just getting whatever is needed — unless it’s a record store, then drop me off and pick me up much, much later.

For me, it just feels good to be around family. I understand gifts and shopping and wanting to get something special for someone. It feels great when you see the look on their face.

I just don’t know how gifts are better than that.


Patrick Murphy, editor-publisher of the Humphrey Democrat and Newman Grove Reporter in Nebraska, is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.