"Better is a little righteousness, than great revenues without righteousness." - Proverbs 16:8
Given that Advent is a season of repentance, let's look at what we need to confess at this time of year, late in the season. By now, I can guarantee I have slipped down the slippery Christmas shopping practice of "One for you and one for me." I will have some returns to make in the New Year. Or maybe not. Depends how seriously I take this season of repentance.
We had a family friend who would take a part-time job at a large department store each year before Thanksgiving. She worked her regular full-time job and then filled the rest of her hours late into the evening at the department store until early January. Between the extra cash and the employee discount, she was a remarkably thoughtful and generous gift giver who made a little go a long way.
I always think of her during the holiday season when I am at the mall, trying to do my own shopping. It reminds me that there are so many people who work so hard to allow the rest of us to be in the Christmas spirit. Many of them are not working to buy gifts, but rather to pay the gas bill.
Occasionally, I see a real lack of Christmas spirit in the malls at this time of year. Many of the shoppers look seriously stressed out and cranky. Sometimes, they take it out on the people working in the stores. Yes, the lines are long. Yes, the shops are crowded. And yes, you have no idea what to get for Aunt Mildred. But there are bigger problems in life. And not one of these small ones is the fault of the person working behind the counter.
Today let's pray for all those folks in this busy shopping season. Bless them with patience, comfortable shoes and the wisdom to point us toward something inexpensive and inoffensive for dear Aunt Mildred.
Today I pray for all those laborers in the vineyard of retail. As I go about my business, let me be as generous to the shopkeepers as I am to the people I am shopping for. Amen.
Lillian Daniel, author of When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough, has a chapter in the new anthology, What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most. Follow her on twitter @lillianfdaniel.