Friday, November 27, 2009

Repainting Black Friday

When my daugther was young we started a family tradition of beginning the holiday gift giving season by shopping for someone we found on the Salvation Army Angel Tree. Only after those gifts were returned to the Angel Tree do we begin shopping for each other. The tradition has endured for many years.
It is tremendous fun as we focus on this stranger from the Angel Tree, trying to devine from the few words on the card what gift they might like. What is their favorite color? Is that a husky size five boy or lean and tall? A train or a truck? A doll or a book? We always buy more than the requested on the card, making certain there is more than one box to open, something fun and something practical.
In no other year I can remember was our tradition more needed. Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that one in six U.S. households have trouble putting a nutritious meal on the table. That covers 15% of our population. Put in another context, that means one in every seven people you encounter on the street, or even at the mall or grocery story, is not getting enough to eat.
The financial press has been keenly focused on Black Friday, speculating on whether consumers can dig deep enough into their pockets to spend the U.S. out of recession. Funny how consumer spending is the only solution to our problems considering that overspending was one of the elements leading to the housing/credit bubble in the first place. However, this is an ax we can grind another day.
Today is the big holiday shopping day. I say shop 'til you drop, but shop for those who need it most. That seventh person you see on the street.

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