The results are in: My great Christmas social experiment was a success. I found that overall, Christmas is highly over-rated. Gasp! This statement coming from a Christian? Okay, clarification here… the commercialism of Christmas is highly over-rated. Better now? You all knew that, and I knew it too, but this time for me, it really sunk in.
How did my success unfold? It took a concentrated effort to keep my focus on what Christmas is about. Christmas is about the birth of Christ; God in human form, coming to earth as a baby. No, it’s not about feeling all soft and fuzzy towards everyone–especially those folks you can’t stand being around the rest of the year. Nor is is about finding the perfect gift. And for those of you who raise their voices in protest and state that Jesus was most likely born in the summer months when the shepherds were out in the feeds grazing their flocks, you are correct, but December 25 is when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, so get over it.
My concentrated effort mostly involved staying out of stores. I was home a lot… (remember, I was able to play hooky from my retail job). We tried to make Christmas gifts simple, so I sewed 2 quilts for my grand children (modest amounts of cash and small gifts for others). The quilts were a lot of work, I put a lot of time and love into that. The near-daily deluge of mail order catalogs were promptly dropped in the trash, and since I was making an effort to keep my thoughts on the true meaning of Christmas, we were in church on Sundays singing hymns, carols, and learning about the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. My aim was to soak up the true spirit of Christmas.
I kept a discerning mind when I watched TV –always so saturated with commercials aimed at making us unhappy and dissatisfied with what we own or don’t own– but at this time of year, a full blown all out effort to entice us into turning loose of our earnings in the name of happiness or peace on earth or because we deserve it, or because everyone else deserves the best of everything. How in the heck does that have anything to do with Christmas? For myself, I have found a direct correlation between the minimizing of exposure to TV commercials and decorating/fashion/women’s magazines to my personal satisfaction of what I already own. In other words, “I didn’t know I needed ______ until someone told me I did.” Get my drift Santa?
I also scaled way back on the decorating (I do less every year). I pulled my ornament bedecked tree out of it’s storage bag, hung a home-made wreath in the bathroom, and placed a little Christmas figurine on the kitchen windowsill. There. Done. The halls were decked.
Do you know what I realized, what I took away from all this? I have come to the conclusion that expensive cars, homes, jewelry, clothing, gadgets, vacations–all the things the world tells us we need/should own–don’t mean squat. In the scheme of life, they mean absolutely nothing. And all the running around and stress of finding a perfect gift is downright silly. I recall on Christmas Eve day when I was in a store (purchasing a toy and treat for the dog next door), a man was frantically shouting into his phone that he had only two people left to buy for–the most difficult to buy gifts for on the face of the earth–and time was running out!
About now, you’re probably calling me a ‘bah-humbug’. You’re partly right, I’m a bah humbug for commercialism. I realized while hunkering down and avoiding stores, that most of my ‘needs’ are actually wants. We humans basically need very little to live; the key is to live in contentment with the simple things and joys of life.
News Flash: I’ve just heard that all the Christmas candy at Wal-Mart has been cleared out to make room for Valentines Day… Oh, this commercialized merry-go-round that we allow ourselves to ride on season after season… (and for a bit more on consumption: ‘The Minimalists’ CLICK HERE)
I do hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas season…