Friday, November 28, 2014

The Day after Thanksgiving

Working in the Cashier's Cage at Sears Northridge beginning in 1997, the day after Thanksgiving was much like any other day -- except the store and the mall were much more crowed.

The day after the day after Thanksgiving was a whole 'nother thing. Our chief task in the cage was to count the store's cash receipts from the day before. In those days, most people used cash or checks. Normally we'd finish the counting around lunch time; busy days it would be the mid-afternoon. Saturday's receipts, usually the bigest sales day of the week, took the entire Sunday shift -- 11 to 5 in those days. The day after Thanksgiving, however, was the biggest sales day of the year, and the Saturday after Thanksgiving, even with the full staff, we were lucky to get everything counted before the store closed that evening. Forget any of the paperwork. Yes, the rest of the days until Christmas would all be long days, but the day after the Day after Thanksgiving was always the longest.

Only one Black Friday offers eternal savings. [image of Golgotha]
I did that each year from 1977-1984. And through the end of 1987 I was in that same Sears store, though by then in the Sears Savings Bank branch inside it. Eleven Days after Thanksgiving I worked in retail, the biggest sales day of the year. It was called "the day after Thanksgiving." Never "Black Friday."

Until I had been a Pastor here in Peoria for a few years, "Black Friday" had only one meaning. It was an alternate name for Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "Black" because historically that was the color you would find in Anglican, Lutheran, and other churches on this Friday the banks, stock exchange, and many other enterprises closed early at Noon so people could go to church. Black Friday would never fall in November, because it is the Friday before Easter, in April or late March. Black Friday would be the day of the fewest, not the most, cash receipts.

Today is the Day after Thanksgiving.

And unless I absolutely must purchase something today, you won't find me in a department store or at the mall. They're way too crowded for me. You won't find me there next Black Friday -- Good Friday, that is, April 3, 2015 -- either. Of course, that will have nothing to do with crowded stores, and everything to do with eternal savings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The President Invites You to Church

I've been waiting for it all day, and now it's here: the Presidential Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day 2014. Actually, given its history, I'm a bit surprised I had to wait until this afternoon before it was finally available. But here it is, the President's invitation for you to worship at Zion -- or another nearby church -- for Thanksgiving Day.

And thus, the Chapel at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria will be open today, the eve of Thanksgiving Day (November 26, 2014) for prayer and Holy Communion beginning at 7 o'clock. You are welcome to join us -- we're at the corner of Easton and Hayes, one block west of the intersection of Jefferson and Western, on the South Side of Peoria. Fellowship and refreshments follow!


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Thanksgiving Day invites us to reflect on the blessings we enjoy and the freedoms we cherish. As we gather with family and friends to take part in this uniquely American celebration, we give thanks for the extraordinary opportunities we have in a Nation of limitless possibilities, and we pay tribute to all those who defend our Union as members of our Armed Forces. This holiday reminds us to show compassion and concern for people we have never met and deep gratitude toward those who have sacrificed to help build the most prosperous Nation on earth. These traditions honor the rich history of our country and hold us together as one American family, no matter who we are or where we come from.

Nearly 400 years ago, a group of Pilgrims left their homeland and sailed across an ocean in pursuit of liberty and prosperity. With the friendship and kindness of the Wampanoag people, they learned to harvest the rich bounty of a new world.

Together, they shared a successful crop, celebrating bonds of community during a time of great hardship. Through times of war and of peace, the example of a Native tribe who extended a hand to a new people has endured. During the American Revolution and the Civil War, days of thanksgiving drew Americans together in prayer and in the spirit that guides us to better days, and in each year since, our Nation has paused to show our gratitude for our families, communities, and country.

With God's grace, this holiday season we carry forward the legacy of our forebears. In the company of our loved ones, we give thanks for the people we care about and the joy we share, and we remember those who are less fortunate. At shelters and soup kitchens, Americans give meaning to the simple truth that binds us together: we are our brother's and our sister's keepers. We remember how a determined people set out for a better world -- how through faith and the charity of others, they forged a new life built on freedom and opportunity.

The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal. It is found in small moments between strangers, reunions shared with friends and loved ones, and in quiet prayers for others. Within the heart of America's promise burns the inextinguishable belief that together we can advance our common prosperity -- that we can build a more hopeful, more just, and more unified Nation. This Thanksgiving, let us recall the values that unite our diverse country, and let us resolve to strengthen these lasting ties.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 27, 2014, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Mike Nichols: RIP

Mike Nichols died a couple of days ago. I was probably 8-years-old the first time I heard the following. I've been a fan ever since.

Here he is accepting an Emmy Award in the year I was born. He definitely did not deserve this.

Television hasn't changed all that much, has it...

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Another General Election

I arrived at my precinct's polling place just after 3:30 in the afternoon. I was the 66th voter to show up, with one person ahead of me and three or four more showing up while I was in the voting booth. Not a lot of folks usually vote around here, even in a general election.

Four years ago, the last mid-term election, there were a total of 166 votes cast in the entire precinct. Two years ago (a Presidential election year), arriving a wee bit later in the afternoon, I was #200 of 346. It would be interesting to learn how many registered voters there are in this precinct.