Throughout high school and college, I spent seven holiday seasons working in a retail environment. I worked shifts at the mall on crowded Black Fridays, picked up extended hours, and constantly added items to already overstocked shelves. I embraced, and actually enjoyed, the chaos that comes with the Christmas shopping season.
Now, this season looks much different than it did when I worked retail, and it fascinates me that our culture and economy has shifted in such a short period of time. Recently, Seth Godin wrote a blog called The Last Black Friday. In it, he explains that as more people buy from the internet, Black Friday seems to get smaller. There are still people that will rush to stores early Friday morning to get a great deal, but this number decreases each year. The way people buy their gifts is changing, but the fact that people are buying a lot of stuff hasn’t changed.
This year, about 174 million Americans bought gifts in stores and online during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That’s 10 million more people than were estimated to participate earlier this year.
About 54 percent of buyers plan to spend the same amount of money they did last year, while 24 percent plan to spend more. Among those 18-24 years old, 46 percent plan to spend more than last year.
It’s estimated that Americans will spend about $682 billion on retail items alone this holiday season (statistics from the National Retail Federation).
The world is changing, and the way that people buy goods is shifting. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is that Christmas costs, and it costs a lot.
So in this season when our personal budgets are stretched and our bank accounts are strained, I hope we step back and remember the part of Christmas that cost the most. In the midst of the decorations, the Santa Claus visits, and the stressful work parties, I hope you’ll pause to reflect on the real reason we celebrate—God became flesh. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son”—the most valuable gift this world has ever seen (John 3:16, ESV). Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem and dwelt among us.
Even today, the highest cost of Christmas is the gift given back in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago.
Even today, the highest cost of Christmas is the gift given back in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. @KevinPaulScott
So when you’re at the mall shopping for a gift, checking out on Amazon, or looking at your bank statement this year, let’s stop to think about how much Christmas really did cost and why we celebrate it.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
– Isaiah 9:6