Turning from Black Friday shopping to family blessing

ORANGEBURG—Avid bargain hunters refer to the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday.

Year after year, the media shows long lines of people waiting in front of stores before dawn so they can be the first to snap up computers, video games and toys on sale.

This year, some members of Holy Trinity Church are hoping to change that and help people focus on Christ and family instead of commercialism.

Father Michael C. Okere, administrator, will offer a “Blessing of the Families” during Mass on Nov. 26.

Parishioners are encouraged to attend the 9 a.m. celebration and hopefully focus the rest of the day on simple togetherness, not material things.

Patricia Janelle, a member of Holy Trinity for more than 25 years, suggested the idea.

In an interview with The Miscellany, Janelle said she started thinking about the commercialism of Black Friday a few weeks ago after listening to a devotional tape that offered ideas on ways to change the world.

“The thought hit me that this is one of the most commercial days of the year, when you see people sleeping outside stores the night before in the freezing cold,” she said. “I’m not villainizing the people who go shopping, but it hit me this was all about stuff — nothing but stuff.”

Janelle thought people could focus instead on the importance of who God places in their lives

“Family is precious, an extremely beautiful gift,” she said. “We all have our own families, but the gift of a parish family is beautiful too.”

She mentioned her idea to Father Okere and they decided to hold a blessing.

Janelle said the Mass ideally will attract multiple generations who are together for the Thanksgiving holiday. She said taking time for prayer and reflection is important because there are only two days between Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent, which falls on Nov. 28 this year.

Janelle is a native of Massachusetts who moved to Orangeburg with her husband Gary when he was transferred.

The couple has two grown children who live in Columbia. They spend time together on weekends and holidays when possible.

She hopes the blessing will become a tradition at Holy Trinity, and would like to see the idea catch on at other parishes.

Janelle said she also mentioned it to a Protestant friend who hopes to start the tradition too.

“As a family, we make a real effort to try to be together, and that’s why I think this family blessing is such an important thing,” she said. “I hope it’ll be a time of blessing, but also a time when people can take a breath and get ready to start celebrating Advent. It’s His time we’re honoring, and the best way to do it is to be right there in front of the Lord.”