Sunday, December 14, 2008

Merry Consumerism - I mean Christmas

These last two weekends I've spent some time out of my little cocoon up in the mountains. It's a different world up here than it is in the "big" cities of this state.

Last weekend, as you know I was in Raleigh and the last two days I went to visit my parents, who don't live in a city, but we did take an adventure out to the city.

Both weekends I went to a large shopping mall. We have a mall here, but it could hardly be categorized as large; maybe not even medium, though it is getting larger.

Have you been to a shopping mall on a Saturday this close to Christmas? It is complete and total madness. Madness I say. I felt like a small child in a sea of strangers that would be separated from her parents at any moment if I didn't keep a death grip on their hands. It takes a lot to make me feel that way. I'm an adult and I've been going to malls alone for a long time now, but the swarms of people around me made me want to grab on to my shopping party and hold on for dear life. I didn't, but I had to fight the urge the whole time.

My reaction kind of surprised me though. It's amazing how soon you can become unsteadied by something that used to seem so natural. When I was younger and living at home I used to go shopping every year at Christmas time with my mother and grandmother. And we would go late in the season. If you look up "procrastination" in the dictionary you would find my mother's face. So every year we would brave the crowds in the "big city" to help my mother find the perfect gift, or twenty of the perfect gifts for our many family members. There would be so many people in the mall that you could stand still and feel the floor move. Did that put a damper on our shopping mayhem? Why no! We threw caution to the wind. The mall hadn't collapsed yet, so why would it now?

The last several years I've made sure to do my shopping early if I had to travel out of town for it, or I just shopped at home, which is much less chaotic. So I guess I just forgot what it was like in a bigger town. And I have to say I'm a little taken aback.

While we were walking (being pushed) through the mall yesterday, my mom made the comment that she doesn't think this is what Christmas was supposed to be about. I have to agree 100%. If you do a little research on Christmas or any of the religious holidays that are celebrated this time of year, you won't find anything on buying as many presents as possible for all the people you have ever made acquaintance with. So what has escalated it to this point? Is it the communication age? Is it that families spend less and less time together and need to buy something that says "I love you" instead of just saying it out loud? Is it a keeping up with the Jones' mentality?

Whatever the cause it makes me sad. Sad for our society and sad for the children I don't have yet. What will Christmas and family relationships be like when they are my age?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that everyone in that shopping mall yesterday doesn't know how to love their family. That isn't what I'm saying at all. I just think that if we could step out of our bodies for a second and take a look at how we celebrate Christmas as a society we all might be a little disgusted. I used to be a retail manager for a major corporation. One of the statistics that has stuck with me is that during the month of December our company made more money than in the other eleven months combined. Kind of disgusting, don't you agree? Sure the company thrived, as I'm sure many others did, and it paid my bills, but what about now? What about this year?

I'm sure it hasn't escaped anyone's attention that we aren't exactly riding the financial high in this country that we have in years past. It is my sincere hope that people aren't blowing their whole wad to have one last fabulous Christmas before all hell breaks loose. Maybe it's time that we all learned to live with a little less. For many people that is already a reality.

This year Andy and I have decided to do something completely different to celebrate Christmas. I can't tell you what right now because my family reads this blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise. I'll write more about it a little later.

For now I'll leave you with this: Give of yourself this holiday season. Love doesn't come from a store. Your loved ones need you more than another sweater.