Does Consumerism really equal Happy Holidays?

You could probably guess that I am a “Merry Christmas” kind of girl. I tell everyone I see about this time of year, Merry Christmas, at least if I don’t expect to see them again before the big day. A subtle reminder at the symbolism of the day and the celebration of the life that blesses us with salvation. (If you don’t believe that’s between you and God, not you and me.)

Anyway, I have been thinking lately (every time I pile the toys in the bins) how much we (communal we as in anyone in the western world) waste at Christmas time. It’s maddening.

I am not trying to bring anyone down off their Christmas high. So, if you don’t want to hear something that might do that, then close the blog now please.

Kinda, sorta, but really it's - Merry Christmas!

Here’s the thing…

I am an American girl. I grew up with the big Christmas’. We had lots of gifts under the tree. We baked cookies. We went caroling. We had a fabulous Christmas!

This is not MY childhood Christmas tree, but this is how I felt

At least I think I did…then I grew up.

I don’t think I am wrong in wondering what happened to Christmas. These days it seems as though we are concerned more with the latest gadgets then the palpable feeling of community. The giving spirit. The love for our fellow man.

I’m dumbfounded.

Yesterday, while watching a Christmas movie on one of the family channels I was physically sickened by an Amazon commercial. I love Amazon, but the commercial – in light of the financial situation of many in the world – was disgusting.

I am pretty sure it was Amazon, anyway, it was an ad for one of the e-readers. It goes something like this…a guy is talking to the screen and a girl walks up and says look what I got so and so for just $79. That was all well and good, but she had 2 of them. He asked about the second one, she said something along the lines of “What? It was only $79!”

Granted that is true…it is only $79.

Many people have the ability to spend like that. Especially around Christmas time. But what would that same $79 (I’m not including taxes and shipping) mean to someone else?

  • A weeks worth of groceries.
  • A paid electric bill.
  • Gas to get to work for a week or two.
  • Clothes to replace the ones that are tattered and torn.
  • That could be enough to have a Christmas dinner.
  • It would be enough to buy the gifts to make Christmas brighter for a child.
  • That could buy three boxes of Angel Food for someone in need.

The reality of life is that while some people’s life situations are fantastic and they are able to pump hundreds (and even thousands of dollars) into the economy this time of year, many are struggling. Many can’t afford groceries for next week. Many don’t have a tree because that would increase their light bill so they just tell there kids that we are going to have a less traditional Christmas this year.

People across the United States are struggling to make it to their next paycheck, and they are faced with the constant murmur of BUY, BUY, BUY! Did you finish your Christmas shopping this year? Have you started? HOW much did you spend?

NONE OF THIS SHOULD MATTER!

Why do we as a group seem to make how much we spend matter? Why do we always have to one up the next guy or ourselves? Why does each year have to be better than the last? What would happen if while your children were young they learned the importance of the simple things?

What would happen if Santa brought them ONE present a year?

What would happen?

Would the world end because you saw to the importance of their character, more than the importance of items? No, but I think the world would evolve into a better place. More grounded.

Planting your feet firmly on the ground and realizing that racking up credit card debt or taking out a loan for Christmas gifts is just not worth it. What do you gain in this? What does your child gain? Do they get more time with you or do you have to get a second job or request overtime to pay the bill back?

What do we gain with the waste from the unused toys that eventually get tossed out?

As a minimalist I don’t think we should have so much stuff. You don’t need a room full of new stuff if you already have a room full of stuff that you don’t use. I try to point this out to my son, but even he doesn’t understand. He has learned from somewhere that to be cool you must have this, or this, or this.

Not every parent can afford those things. Not every parent that can afford them is willing to buy them. Not every parent spoils their child the same way.

My boys are spoiled. They are spoiled by me. I spend as much time as humanly possible with them. We watch movies together. We go to the beach. We play in mud puddles. We go to the park and ride the swings together…well they ride, I push. We go swimming and when Michael is old enough we will start camping and floating down the river on a canoe. They are spoiled by love, affection, and respect.

Christmas is a season of love and forgiveness. A season where we are supposed to look outside ourselves and see the bigger picture. A season to take a vacation and spend quality fun-filled time with our families. What will your kids learn? Will they see that Santa sees to indulging their every want or will they see that you are indulging their every need?

Good luck this season and Merry Christmas!

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First day of school

My son would have you believe that today was the best, most perfect day EVER!

Why?

He started kindergarten today.

He has been so excited since registration that every morning he woke up in anticipation of that day being the first day of school. He got uniforms, a lunch box and a shiny new backpack.

Last week he was so funny, packing his backpack and lunch box with toys and juice boxes, just HOPING that it was finally time for school.

We saved our school supply shopping for this past weekend. Saturday I woke up at 6 am with every intention of getting out before the masses, but the boys slept. Even though I did laundry, washed dishes, and banged around in the kitchen making breakfast, they continued to sleep.

It was 1 pm by the time we left the apartment. It was 105 degrees outside and the crowds were less than cordial. We were nearly run over in the first 10 minutes!

Wal-Mart, the mecca of discount drudgery, was packed. The school supply section of our chosen Wally world was standing room only. Available supplies were dwindling and tempers were flaring! We were hard pressed to find all our supplies, but we put the word out to our fellow late shoppers that we were in need of a few items and if the saw them – let us know!

At 2:30, we were finally able to leave Wal-Mart. Elijah was begging, “Mommy PLEASE! Let’s GO HOME! There are too many people!”

Michael, “WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

By the time we left I felt like crying, but we weren’t done for the day.

My sister called with the location of the back packs and school boxes of the right size. I cringed as I thought of the amount of stuff that was still needed on the supply list, but I had hopes that everything would be at the Wal-Mart in the next little town over.

So – we went home…to recover for a minute to let Mike catch a few winks and to have a snack and an hour and half later we were driving to the next Wal-Mart. We found all the remaining items on our list and celebrated the end of the day with dinner at Cici’s. (The restaurant for starving, cash poor families everywhere.) 😉

Anyway – let’s get back to school. 

This morning Elijah woke up before I could get him up. Bounding out of bed with, “Is today school?!”

“Yes, Elijah…today is school.”

“YAAAAAY!” So jumping up and down he gets dressed, packs a lunch, and can’t sit down.

              First day of Kindergarten!

As a mom this is where I sigh…and pray. I am praying that he keeps this vibrancy about school. I pray that for the next 20 years (I am planning on him being a doctor :)) that he stays excited. That I can find exciting and interesting ways to keep him going back every year and getting that excited in the belly feeling every year!

If he can get excited about learning and stay excited than we win. Score! So, for the next 20 years my job is to find a way to make even the drudgery of the mundane as exciting as blasting rockets.

Good luck to me and to the rest of the parents out there! We are gonna need it!