ColumnConscious life, hear me roar.
I hate Christmas. If you like Christmas in the least, steer clear, or I may just ruin it for you…on every level possible.
Blame this on the holiday’s predictability, its waste, its hypocritical platform where we give to receive some forced satisfaction that somebody cares about us, throw in a sad Salvation Army bell ringer (that most people pass without even throwing a quarter to), and you’ve got a feel for why I can’t help but carry this loathing.
It reminds me of a popular article from EcoSalon about breast cancer awareness and why it’s not enough to donate money – no, we need to buy toxic pink plastic junk to support the cause.
We associate “giving” with simply getting more.
Yesterday over IM, my husband pinged me to ask if had I gotten myself what I wanted yet for Christmas.
“For real, I’m serious, I don’t want anything.”
“Jeez. Thanks for ruining another Christmas for me,” he shot back.
When I called him and told him I wasn’t into ruining anything and that I wanted to use my “gift money” for home improvements, he sighed. We’ve been married 15 years, and he should know me by now.
Gifts? How about saving up for a trip to Hawaii in February? How about fixing the weakening front steps so nobody sues us when they fall into the transom window-well by the front door?
I have gone through Christmases where I needed the gifting, when we were young and poor and lived off a credit card for food just before payday, where we kept the house really cold unless guests were coming over so as to save on heating costs, where we shopped at the Salvation Army to get decorations for a meager potted tree.
From the vantage point of our life now, I can laugh at these things, but at one point in my not-so-long-ago adult life, I was flat broke. Yet that lack of physical wealth didn’t hamper my spiritual love for family; in fact, it just brought us closer together. We used our hands and made things, we baked more, we played guitar and sang more, we went on hikes.
But today? As you read this, I am probably at the mall buying something for my 11-year-old daughter; if she doesn’t get what’s on her wishlist, she’ll be “really mad,” according to the helpful key at the bottom of her wish list. I wonder if this isn’t all my fault, that I’ve not expressed to my family in a clear manner that the holidays are a good time to start a travel fund instead of what we’ve become used to doing.
This morning on Facebook, I looked at what was going on in my friends’ lives and loved discovering that my friend in St. Louis was in the kitchen making Christmas cookies at “top speeds,” my friend Meghan from New York City was on the road, no doubt promoting her sustainable clothing line Afia, and still another friend was getting ready for a cross-country drive to another friend’s house she hadn’t seen in five years.
“This will be my best Christmas present ever,” she wrote.
I bet it will.
If we take away the material and replace it with the meaningful – which just means we focus on what our gut is already telling us to do – we might all be doing some thing a lot different this holiday season. And I suspect it wouldn’t involve the mall.
Between the Lines, is a weekly column navigating the sometimes-sharp, sometimes-blurred lines of life and culture between city and country.