Posts Tagged ‘Materialism

01
Dec
08

Stolen Magic

img_1741Black Friday is over.  Retailers are steeling themselves for the financial fallout as their lowered expectations are met.  So is my family.  Last Christmas, as happened every Christmas before, we left Grandma’s house wedged into the car among enough new belongings to start a second household.  It was bittersweet.  On one hand, the girls couldn’t wait to get home and unpack their treasures.  On the other hand, we all knew how hard it was to find the right gifts for children, friends, and grandparents because we have everything under the sun and we know that so many don’t.  My husband and I knew then, when our then-six-year-old unwrapped her second MP3 player, that a line had been crossed and it may be difficult to even find the other side, much less get to it. 

So we determined to cut back.  So did my grandparents.  So did my parents.  So did my blessed princesses, but it was not voluntary.

Amid my resolve to teach my children the true joy of this season, I am shocked that I have been knocked over by eight tiny reindeer.  For the first time in years, I did not get a JC Penny snowglobe, the prize of a true Black Friday veteran.  Even if I wasn’t getting anyone a sweater, I still stood in line just to prove that I was a soldier prepared to brave the crowds at 5:00 am even after downing half a bottle of wine and the leftovers of a meal that never ended.  From Penny’s, I would hit Circuit City.  Then Wal-Mart for the essentials.  Then Target.  Then Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond.  Then Pier One, TJ Maxx, and finally the mall to visit Macy’s and the Hallmark Store.  Of course, I would visit Bath & Body Works, then Claire’s for stocking stuffers.  Sixteen hours later, I would be jubilant and nearly done shopping, except for the few items I had to wait out until last minute clearances. 

This year, I worked on Black Friday.  Then, I came home to play a rolicking game of Monopoly with my daughters, a rare treat to play such a long game.  Saturday we went out together to round up any remaining bargains, then came home for family movie night.  I enjoyed every minute, but it was another bittersweet moment.  Every turn of the aisle in Target unearthed a little more holiday melancholy.  First, I miss my snowglobe.  There will be an empty “2008” spot on my console table.  But of course, there is so much more.  

I have fallen for a tremendous, damaging, and tragic lie.  All this time, I have searched Penny’s Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Target (I nearly found it there), and all the others for magic.  I even thought I found it there and I think I convinced my daughters they can find it there, too.  Each year, I try desperately to create the magical scenes of ecstatic children opening beautifully wrapped treasures beside a perfectly lit tree.  The tree was always perfect, thanks to my mother, but that was it.  The harder I tried, the bigger the failure.  I have books and books of holiday stories that I planned to read to these girls by the light of the Christmas tree.  It never happened.  Most of the bindings haven’t been cracked.  My older daughter is 14 and we have uncracked bindings.  I have a 14 year old daughter who has never baked Christmas cookies.  I am not sure she actually knows that a cookie cutter is to make cookies, not to embelish packages for her teachers.  My friends and family have never gotten a Christmas card from me.  No family pictures.  I am never home before dark on a weekend during the holidays – unless there is a party later.  However, as much as I love a Christmas party, I have never filled my own home with Christmas guests – no time.  The retailers have gotten all of my holiday time.  I am guessing that they did not miss my Christmas cards.  My great great aunt who always asks after me and my children probably does, though.

Somehow the very retailers who promise all the magic and joy our credit cards can buy stole that from me.  I have had my suspicions, but since my escape from Black Friday, I know it’s true.  It hit home walking the Target aisles.  Even with my daughters in tow, we skipped the doll aisle, the Barbie aisle, and all of the toys.  The only thing they are interested in are grown-up electronics and CD’s.  I envied the women clustered around the new dollhouses and mourned for a time that has long gone.  My greatest hope is that they take the time to ENJOY this magic, rather than BUYING it.  

My girls have the big dollhouse, the American Girls, and every My Little Pony made, but there was no delighted squealing when they opened them.  They are not spoiled rotten – yet – I think we have caught it in time.  But I promised them magical Christmases.  According to everything they see, that meant that they would be getting these things and it ruined the surprise.  This year, they WILL be surprised with stories of a miracle that means eternal life with a very best friend.  They will be surprised to learn that cookies can come from an oven instead of boxes.  And they just may think it’s fun to show their relatives they are growing up by sending out Christmas cards and pictures.  We will have a housefull of friends for a Christmas dinner and I am sure the girls will be surprised that we have time to sip hot chocolate by the lights of the tree.   If I get my Christmas wish, my girls will discover that the magic of the holiday comes not from any big box retailer; it comes from the family the Lord gave us and the love He shares through His son.  Sorry Target – we already have MP3 players.

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16
Aug
08

Crystal Red Lust…Crystal Clear

Driving into work this morning I am obsessing about my dwindling (although slowly) debt and feeling very grateful to the Lord for tending to all my material needs.  I’m thinking about the lilies of the field and the swallows of the air¹ when here comes a CADILLAC CTS.  RED…Crystal Red.  You know the one.  It’s resting on meaty haunches, ready to pounce on my unsuspecting Nissan.  And I’m rooting for the CTS!  Trusty Nissan be damned!  I roll my window down, hoping to hear the engine, but the driver is not an engine revving kind of girl.  Tragic waste.  Suddenly, I am weak in the knees.  WEAK IN THE KNEES!!  And I’m thinking, “come on…open it up…let’s see what you can do…”  Then I start to get the whole men and strippers thing.  I wanna see IT ALL!  There are no more lilies on my brain, just 6 pounding cylinders and a leather wrapped steering wheel.  This hunk of throbbing American metal is begging me to save it from the mundane suburban traffic and run it through the twisting canyon just miles away.  Never mind national security and environmental implications, the true tragedy of our current energy crisis is the demise of the drive.  At $4.00/gallon, it is a rare treat to open the throttle and feel my car’s power surge into the empty lane next to me.  And an aggressive drive through the canyon?  Sadly put on hold as I “conserve” the liquid gold for trips to Super Target.  Where’s the joy?

Actually, it’s probably not in the Cadillac.  Amazing how, despite so many efforts to avoid materialism and count my MANY blessinge (even that trusty Nissan I sold down the river), I am quickly taken from a state of gratitude to a state of dissatisfaction.  In a mere moment, I question every choice I’ve made and rue the dull life I have chosen to lead.  Sad what a little chrome can do to steal the luster from true joy.  With beautiful, healthy, warm, educated and well-fed daughters and a husband and countless friends I have no right to want for more. 

 ¹Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Luke 12:27

 




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