On Black Thursday, and more.

Thursday? Lamentably, yes. Under the temptation of MORE, stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Kmart, and others have decided to begin the shopping extravaganza a day early.

Not everyone thinks this way. In our intra-family communications this week, my daughter Jessica sent us news of her favorite company, Patagonia, and their decision to stay closed over the holiday. She loves their products and once even met the owners. They have decided to forgo Black Friday, and encourage their customers to “repair worn clothing” instead. You can google the story. I entered in, telling the family about a question from Jason Ballard, president of TreeHouse in Austin. He was writing a letter to their customers, explaining the company’s decision to stay closed over the Thanksgiving holiday, and wanted to talk about it.

In the paper this morning Post op-ed writer Kathleen Parker wrote about the big box-stores’ decision to ensure that consumption is the heart of the Christmas season, by beginning with a Black Thursday.

“In so doing, these retailers further diminish the meaning of Thanksgiving while advancing the notion that time is better spent hauling away large-screen TVs than engaging in human communion. The bumper-sticker slogan — ‘He who dies with the most toys wins’ — seems to become a cultural mantra as we abandon any pretense of human purpose beyond consumption.”

Those who imagine otherwise, wanting deeper, richer experiences, like “human communion,” to form us, see life differently. In thousands of ways they see themselves called to callings that are both in this world, and not of this world– in the marketplaces of the world, and yet, and yet.

Bono of U2 almost gets the last word. About his own vocation he said, “I write songs. I just hope that when the day is over, I’ve been able to tear a little corner off of the darkness.” Those are words to live by and to die by, to sell by and to buy by. Patagonia, TreeHouse and others, deeply engaged in this world as they are, are also contra mundum, against this world too.

To see Thanksgiving as a day for “thanksgiving” is increasingly strange, I suppose, making people and places that remember to remember, “signposts in a strange land,” which allows me to give Walker Percy the last last word.

Steven Garber is the Senior Fellow for Vocation and the Common Good for the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. A teacher of many people in many places, he continues to serve as a consultant to colleges and corporations, facilitating both individual and institutional vocation. A husband, a father and a grandfather, a he has long lived in Washington DC, living a life among family, friends, and flowers.

Meet Steve