We’re way too sophisticated for that childhood myth about a rotund gentleman with a white beard and rosy cheeks picking up the tab for our Christmas bills. But boy, are those bills going up! Take the latest post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping numbers (how could we ignore them) released over the last few hours.
According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: “A record 189.6 million consumers shopped over the long Thanksgiving weekend, up 14% from last year, the National Retail Federation said Tuesday. And for the first time, Black Friday topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day for e-commerce, though it also remained the busiest day for in-store shopping.” (www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/dec/04/holiday-weekend-spending-up-16-20191204/).
Must be the elderly driving this spending bill higher? Not hardly: "Spending rose 16%, as shoppers spent $361.90 on average over the five-day span from Thursday to Monday.” But keep reading: “Younger consumers were the biggest spenders, with 25- to 34-year-olds each shelling out an average of $440.46, followed by 35- to 44-year-olds at $439.72” (ibid emphasis supplied).
So how much did America spend on Black Friday? (By the way, Black Friday is now global—we were in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for ASI meetings over the Thanksgiving weekend—“Black Friday” was posted everywhere.) CNBC is reporting Black Friday shoppers in the U.S. spent $7.4 billion online alone (retail figures are not clear), making it “the biggest sales day ever for Black Friday and [trailing] only last year’s Cyber Monday’s $7.9 billion for the number 1 spot of all-time in online revenue, according to Adobe’s data” (www.cnbc.com/2019/11/30/black-friday-shoppers-spend-record-7point4-billion.html).
At this point, the numbers get a bit numbing when you add to that $7.4 billion the whopping Cyber Monday sales ($9.4 billion—a new record) and Thanksgiving Day online sales ($4.2 billion) plus the weekend in between.
Bottom line? Over the last few days, Americans have spent more than $21 billion on Christmas. And we’re still three weeks out!
So who pays for Christmas? This summer the Wall Street Journal reported: “The American middle class is falling deeper into debt to maintain a middle-class lifestyle. . . . Consumer debt, not counting mortgages, has climbed to $4 trillion—higher than it has ever been even after adjusting for inflation” (August 2, 2019—front page). Moreover, “student loan debt totaled about $1.5 trillion last year, exceeding all other forms of consumer debt except mortgages” (ibid). That’s a total of $5.5 trillion of debt (not counting mortgages)! And yet our Christmas spending is higher than it has ever been before. What’s wrong with that picture?
What about this picture? “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (Luke 2:6-7).
Who picked up the tab for the “first “Christmas?” No Santa Clauses or online shoppers or Black Fridays or Blue Christmases there. Just the Newborn—swaddled in cloth strips and placed in a box of cow feed inside that dank stable cave—the Gift of the ages, from the Father’s heart to the fallen race. The cost of his Gift—when measured in the currency of Heaven? “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7-8). Did you catch that? Those lavished “riches of God’s grace” have canceled the most staggering debt of all—our moral bankruptcy!
“Having collected the riches of the universe, and laid open the resources of infinite power, [the Father] gives them all into the hands of Christ, and says, All these are for man. Use these gifts to convince him that there is no love greater than Mine in earth or heaven. His greatest happiness will be found in loving Me” (Desire of Ages 57).
Who pays for Christmas? A wooden manger and cross are answer enough.