Hello St. Paul’s,
Maybe you are seeing this on Thanksgiving Day, in which case Happy Thanksgiving! At a recent Morning Prayer Zoom, we somehow got onto the topic of holiday shopping – I think it came from a discussion of what the verse in the first letter of Peter meant: “Do not be conformed to the desires you formerly had in ignorance.” Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday – all are designed to appeal to our desires, to catch us up in an unthinking frenzy of spending, for the most part perhaps on things our loved ones don’t need and wouldn’t buy for themselves. We have been thoroughly conditioned in this culture to believe that spending money is the responsible and even patriotic thing to do: do our bit to support the economy; help businesses get back on track; participate in the recovery of the nation from the pandemic.
There is nothing wrong with supporting businesses, or in spending our money – as long as we don’t bury ourselves in debt – but let’s do it thoughtfully. We know that workers’ wages and CEO compensation have grown further and further apart over the last few decades. There is a deep injustice in the distribution of wealth, especially in the larger corporations. Who do you want to benefit from your spending? A billionaire, a small family business, a struggling artist, a non-profit? For some years now there’s been a movement called Buy Nothing Day, scheduled to coincide with Black Friday. It’s an international protest against over-consumption. Perhaps on Friday you can relax at home with friends and family, enjoy leftovers and good company, instead of putting yourself through the stress and anxiety of the shopping mall.
Another counterweight to all that consumerism is the observance of Giving Tuesday, a day when many non-profits invite holiday donations. It’s an opportunity to consider making a donation to a good cause in honor of those you love, instead of buying them more stuff. I don’t know of any relevant research, but I suspect that relatively few people run up giant credit card balances on charitable donations, so it might be the healthiest way to spend your money this holiday season.
There are so many good causes, both international and local, that you can contribute to. This year I am looking at the UNICEF COVID vaccination fund, Episcopal Relief and Development, the San Diego Food Bank, the Border Compassion migrant shelter in Mexicali, the Border Angels water drop program, Episcopal Community Services, and Vida Joven de México, as potential non-profit Christmas “gifts” for the important people in my life. I plan to stay home with my son on Friday and maybe write some Christmas cards. In fact, last Monday’s visit to the Sees candy store in Fashion Valley was probably my last visit this year to that mall, maybe any mall.
Of course, there is one non-profit that is especially close to my heart, and that is St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was deeply touched on Sunday watching so many of you coming to the altar with your pledges and offerings. If you haven’t yet made your pledge for 2022 perhaps that’s something you can do on Buy-Nothing Friday.
[If you would like more information about any of these good causes, see the information at the end of the manuscript version of this letter.]
Whatever you decide to do this weekend, I hope you will be blessed with time to rest, time to reflect on God’s goodness, and time to give thanks for all the abundance that surrounds us. See you on Sunday!
Your sister in Christ,
San Diego Food Bank: https://sandiegofoodbank.org/
Border Compassion: 43376 Cook St, Unit 10, Palm Desert, CA. 92211
Border Angels: https://www.borderangels.org/water-drops.html
Episcopal Community Services: https://www.ecscalifornia.org/
Vida Joven de México: https://vidajovendemexico.org/
St. Paul’s: stpaulcathedral.org/my-pledge/