Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving...This is the day in which retail merchants are supposed to go from the red to the black, making their profit for the year in the next month of holidays, but black is also the color of mourning.

This morning my wife Jean asked me if I would make a quick trip to Walmart to pick up an ink cartridge for her printer. It was very early and the stock personnel were very busy with pallet forks loading the merchandise into the isles. I found the right printer cartridge and noticed a few things. Lexmark combination color printer-scanners were on sale for $29.88, or $5.00 more than the price of the tiny black HP cartridge I had placed in my cart. If we weren't so bargain crazy and were able to look at the hidden costs of getting all our manufactured goods from China instead of making them ourselves, the customers might not have been so excited. I bought the HP cartridge (also made in China) and left the store.

Meanwhile, at 8 AM the carts were filling fast.

I wonder, if all the products on the store shelves at Walmart for one day went into the landfill instead, perhaps by accident, but none-the-less leaving money in our pockets, would our lives be significantly different? Would we be impoverished? I suspect we are already impoverished before we enter the store, our appetites honed for fresh bargains with unseen costs and the squealing delight of falling prices.

Please take a moment and look around your own home. Take a quick assessment. What are the things that hold the most meaning? What things are irreplaceable in your life, and what is the source of their meaning? There may be a few things you made yourself, that record your growth, your learning, your interest and attention. There may be a few things made by friends or family that you treasure as an expression of their love.

If you don't find those things, I am sorry. If you would like greater meaning in your life than you will find in an endless stream of meaningless objects, you might want to learn how to make a few things for yourself. It is better than shopping and tomorrow I will tell you why. The photo above was taken behind the castle at Nääs. A much more pleasant place than the Black Friday action isle at any big box store.

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