» Kristin Kittell | kkittell@my.apsu.edu

The Thanksgiving holiday is finally upon us. Many students are preparing to vacate the halls of APSU to travel home to see their families. Others will stay with friends to feast on Domino’s pizza and Pepsi.

Either way, the Thanksgiving holiday is a time for festivity, relaxation and gentle overeating.

Fortunately for corporations, the festivities are short-lived. Before the day has even begun, families are preparing for the overshadowing big brother of the last Thursday in November — the following Friday.

Known as “Black Friday” because of its reputation as the only day of the year during which retail business’ budgets are in the black, the Friday following Thanksgiving has become a notorious holiday of its own.

Stores begin preparing for it as early as Oct. 31. When the costumes come down, time temporarily stands still as retail workers everywhere share an apprehensive moment of silence.

Customers flock to the checkout lines for the best deals they’ll get year round on things like TVs, watches, movies and clothing.

Economically speaking, Black Friday is a godsend. Buyers can make great Christmas purchases for cheaper prices and stores can bask in the glory of an end-of-year fiscal high. In this sense, Black Friday is great.

The problem is the moral implication that Black Friday presents, or rather, the immoral. The day has become infamous for cutthroat survivalists and rampant consumerism — everything the Christmas season is intended to discourage.

In 2010, a Walmart employee in Long Island was trampled and killed during the midnight stampede at his store. At a Toys-R-Us in California, two shoppers were shot as a result of a dispute over merchandise.

These deaths are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Black Friday mayhem. Shoppers who dare go out run the risk of being trampled and seriously injured for the sake of a $20 discount on a Blu-ray player, and the worst part? The video will be viral on YouTube within a matter of minutes. By next year, you’ll be another unheeded warning to a shopper who will risk the same fate as they venture out to make their Black Friday purchases.

While wanting to give your loved ones the best gifts possible is a wonderful sentiment, the manners through which people will obtain them are not sentimental in the least. In fact, the ritual of Black Friday is a nightmare far more fitting for Halloween than the Christmas season.

Christmas presents are a wonderful thing, but Black Friday has helped usher them onto the top of the metaphorical Christmas tree where the Northern Star should sit. In short, dear Christians, where did all the Jesus go?

The consumerism is bad enough. Internet, print and broadcast media are littered with promotions for weeks prior. The public succumbs to the greed of material possessions and therefore cheapens the Christmas holiday itself. You can justify the transfer of gifts as a celebration of the sacrifice of Jesus, but it should not be the only celebration.

It certainly should not overshadow the transfer of so many greater things, like love, memories and warm wishes. As I recall, Jesus gave us the gift of life, not a brand new iPad. If you disagree, I have to wonder what you’re doing celebrating Christmas in the first place.

Furthermore, Black Friday encourages us to forsake Christian charity entirely for one day of every-man-for-himself shopping. Once we walk through those sliding double doors, we find ourselves making moral decisions we would easily rebuke any other day of the year.

There’s a pregnant woman under your feet — so what? Her fetus will never know its mother didn’t get that Xbox 360, but your son won’t shut up for months.

Why do Americans go to such great lengths for a good deal? Is it because we want to offer our loved ones wonderful things on Christmas morning?

If so, why do those wonderful things have to be purchased at a retail outlet?

I hope one day when I start my own family, I can teach my children love, charity, patience and kindness all year round. I hope they understand the true meaning of Christmas — it is more than gifts under a tree; it is a symbol of the most precious day in the Christian faith.

Most of all, I hope I never catch a single one of them trampling a fellow shopper in a Kmart doorway so they can be the first to the jewelry counter. TAS