I know that some people don’t celebrate Christmas and if that is what works for their value system, it’s okay with me. Others celebrate the season as the birth of Jesus Christ. Others believe that it isn’t a true religous holiday (like Easter where we know exactly when it is) but is a nice time to remember the birth of Jesus.
Actually, I am not terribly concerned with how anyone else views Christmas. My concern is that in this country (and possibly in all of Western culture, I fear) we are living our lives in a completely overstressed, emotionally bankrupt way to try and impress people with cheaply made material goods so that they will feel “loved.” I see parents giving presents and electronics and “stuff” to kids in lieu of spending time with them. I see families who are overwhelmed with debt clamoring to give more and more presents, even if the presents will be flimsy and break in a day or two. Nobody wants to be the parent whose kid didn’t get as much as the next kid.
And we do this ostensibly to celebrate the Savior’s birth?
How, exactly, does out of control materialism in any way help someone to focus on the miracle of deity being born in human flesh as a perfect atonement for all of our sins? I fail to see the connection.
I have heard arguments that it is because the wise men brought gifts to the baby in a manger. Okay, then 3 valuable gifts could make sense. But, how do we justify all of the candy and filler and just foreign made junk under our trees and in our stockings?
I have heard it is because with Savior’s birth brings with it the “Good News” of salvation and therefore we want to make our children smile. Methinks that might be reaching a bit in the gift excuses category.
However, it is pretty clear that is the retail establishment that is pushing this ol’ purchasing train round the tracks each year. Advertising (that we watch when we could be doing productive things or spending time with our kids) invoke feelings of guilt and desire. We all want that perfect Norman Rockwell scene, but when we people it with our own personal foibles and quirks along with those of our friends, families, and communities leave us feeling like Clark Griswold having a bad year! Why is that? Why can’t we find a level of togetherness and family that is comfortable and attainable for us and make our own traditions without the pushy influence of those who would all to happily part us from our money without a thought to providing a useful product in return?
When did Consumerism trump Christ in becoming the driving factor in this holiday that bears His name?
Better yet, why don’t we care?
The truth is we’ve all been a little bit brainwashed. We want to believe that in the midst of the late fall doldrums that there can be a touch of magic, a reason to smile and to be happy and together as the days get shorter. Frankly, our quest for “stuff” and our inability to distinguish “wants” from “needs” leaves us overscheduled, overstressed, up to our eyeballs in debt (because we are so stinking tired. Too tired to cook. Gotta hire a housekeeper, a babysitter, a yard man….) and unable to see real enjoyment in our lives. No matter how much time we spend with our kiddos, we always wonder if what we are doing is good enough. Hey, I am a stay home Mama and I wonder if I do enough for my kids. When I was working full time, I still had those thoughts. It has taken me a lot of time to understand that those thoughts are just my being a tad anxious about being a Mama and not some real nagging to do more.
And certainly, not to buy more. Every year, after we purchase Christmas gifts, I wonder, did we do enough? Enough for what? According to who? Hubby reminds me that we aren’t getting in debt and paid cash. It is plenty.
And it always turns out to be just that. Plenty.
I want to do for my kids, but I don’t want to forego having a good future by racking up debt. I don’t want them to be spoiled and unable to feel or express gratitude. Yet, I always wonder…. And, I bet you do to, sometimes!
To that end, as Christmas 2013 begins to grind toward a halt in the next few days, I have been trying to look forward a bit to try and have a plan for the upcoming year. Maybe not so much of a plan but a nice, general guideline to help me through the year. Maybe you would like to create one of your own.
One year, several bloggers I knew chose words that would provide some structure to their year. They used that single word as a motto to drive their lives forward a bit. It was a great idea. But, I think that I will require more than a word this year. I need a concept that encompasses more than a word. I need a word and then a general way to keep that work working for me.
And I think I have it. My word for 2014 will be (drumroll, please…….) LESS.
Think of it…. Less Stress, Less Materialism, Less Clutter, Less Stress, Less Distractions, Less Fabric (gulp, there, I have said it…gotta use up what I have first), Less Meaningless Crap filling up the moments of my life.
Less can definitely be MORE in 2014.
Clutter and organization is going to be an ongoing challenge since we moved 18 months ago in to much smaller surroundings. Sometimes, it isn’t as though you have too much stuff as it is that it just can’t be all in the middle of the room and on display all of the time.
I am also seriously considering something called Project 333. The goal of Project 333 is simple. Live with 33 items of clothing for 3 months. This includes shoes, clothes, accessories, and jewelry. It excludes any sentimental jewelry you never take off (wedding ring?), sleepwear, workout wear (but only wear it to work out), underwear, and in home only lounge wear.
I even found this wonderful plan for making 56 outfits out of 10 key pieces from GoodWill. Even if you don’t want to purchase your pieces from GoodWill or another thrift shop, you can still use the plan to fill in among your current favorite pieces to make a great wardrobe for yourself with just those 10 pieces! That leaves you 23 pieces for shoes, accessories, jewelry, or just an extra dress or shirt or something fun. The more I think about it, I have clothing that doesn’t go together or that doesn’t really fit well or make me feel great, so I don’t wear them. I probably wear the same few things over and over and over. Why keep the rest in the way so it is hard to find my favorites?
I also hope that by having fewer key pieces, as they wear out or need to be replaced, I can find nicer pieces (preferably made in the USA or somewhere without sweat shops) to replace them with. Less stuff, more versatility, more wearability, less junky stuff that will just be thrown out. I am definitely working toward more Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in my life.
Also, I am definitely working toward more healthy eating and less junky filler in my diet over the next year. But, that is a post for another day.
So, what is your plan for 2014? Will you join me in wanting LESS this year?
Till next time,