Leonard Pitts Jr.: Thanks for a life lesson from Jell-O

BY LEONARD PITTS JR. Published: November 29, 2012
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Bing Crosby would be appalled.

With singer Carol Richards, the great crooner once popularized a song, “Silver Bells,” about the joy of Christmas shopping. “Strings of streetlights,” it went, “even stop lights, blink a bright red and green as the shoppers rush home with their treasures.”

Of course, that was in 1950, a more genteel era when men still wore hats and women still wore gloves. These days, one would be well-advised to wear Kevlar.

In 2008, a Walmart worker named Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death by a mob of holiday shoppers who broke down the doors of a store in Valley Stream, N.Y. In 2011, a woman in Los Angeles used pepper spray on a group of shoppers vying for video game consoles. That pleasant chore of holiday shopping about which Crosby sang has long since mutated into an annual ritual of mass psychosis called Black Friday.

About the best that can be said of this year's Black Friday is that nobody died. Two people were shot in Tallahassee, Fla., in what police say was a dispute over a parking space. In San Antonio, a man allegedly cut the line and punched a guy who complained. The guy who was punched pulled a gun. In Moultrie, Ga., there was a near riot over cellphones.

And as people were thus celebrating the season of thanksgiving, redemption and light, the Rev. Nancy was saying grace over two cups of Jell-O.

She is my pastor's mother, a preacher in her own right, who took ill on Thanksgiving eve and had to be rushed to the emergency room. She spent the holiday in the hospital and her son was so moved by watching her give thanks for Jell-O that he preached about it Sunday.

This is not a church, so there will be no sermon, only an observation that, whatever one's belief structure or lack thereof, there is something to be said for learning to be content in the face of circumstances you cannot change.

Otherwise, you are in for a bumpy ride through this life.

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