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.
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!
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.
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!