Consumerism and the Fall Through Christmas Seasons

Posted on September 26, 2008 by ELCA World Hunger

As in my previous post this week, I’m still thinking about consumerism. My daughter is already asking for things for Christmas (the catalogs have begun arriving). And she loves practically everything she sees having to do with Halloween. Of course, Halloween things will be forgotten by Christmas and we certainly don’t need any of it. But that’s hard for a child to grasp while looking at all the glittery, cool stuff. It can be hard for adults, too.

So I found the following article helpful in this year’s copy of Who’s Birthday Is It, Anyway? from Alternatives for Simple Living. It is written by Sandi Baete from Henryville, Indiana, and quoted here with permission from Alternatives for Simple Living. Full disclosure: I’m on the board at Alternatives. If you like the message, I encourage you to order a copy of the publication. It’s full of reflections and ideas on how to keep the Christmas season simpler and more meaningful. And with the catalogs in my mailbox, I know it must be near December and time to start thinking about this.

-Nancy Michaelis

The Best Gift I Didn’t Get
by Sandi Baete

As Christmas approaches, I know I will be asked, “What do you want for Christmas?” Now, if I think about it, and look around on the Internet, check out magazines and catalogs, and window-shop at the mall, I am sure to come up with a long list of things that I really want. Most of which I probably didn’t even know exist until I started looking for things to “want.”

So last year, before the question was asked, I did a little soul-searching. And the truth that I found was this – I didn’t really want anything. On top of that, there wasn’t anything I needed either. So, this was my answer to the “What do you want for Christmas?” question. “I want you to take the money you were going to spend on me and find someone who truly has a need. I want you to help that person, and then on Christmas, tell me what you did. That will be my gift.” The more people I told, the more I meant it and looked forward to seeing what I “got.”

This is what I “received” – $50 donated to Habitat for Humanity, $20 given to a homeless woman looking in a dumpster for food, towing service paid for a stranger whose car had left them stranded, Christmas gifts provided for a Salvation Army Angel Tree, and a yearly gift made in the form of a monthly pledge to the ASPCA, a group dedicated to ending cruelty to animals.

Not everyone heeded my wishes; I still received some “real” gifts. But the funny thing is, I was more excited with what I didn’t get. I can truly say I was filled with joy, knowing that others have been blessed. I guess I had a small glimpse of what Jesus must feel when we do the thing He wants us to do.

I know that even as adults we can get caught up in the excitement of getting gifts at Christmas. I’ll admit it’s fun to get a present. But really, do any of those things bring lasting happiness and joy? If the truth be known, I bet most of us can’t even remember what gifts we received for Christmas last year. So what do you have to lose? Just give it a try. I bet you’ll find a whole new meaning in the season.

This year, I am praying earnestly that I receive nothing. After all, my Heavenly Father has already given me everything I need.

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