Want is rampant in our culture, particularly during the holiday season. I’m not talking about the want of poverty where people are subsisting on found food, begging for discards, and suffering and dying of starvation. I’m speaking of the disease of desire, the “must have more” mentality, the mission of acquisition.
If you live in a city, there is almost no way to escape the chatter of the advertisers. The promotion of paraphernalia is painted on vehicles, lettered on road signs, and blasted from billboards. The magazines we buy have become fancy fliers with more product placement than content.
What’s worse is that most of us willingly let it into our homes. The piles of papers that litter our floors tell us what supplies are available at a local level. Turn on your computer, radio, or television and you’ll be accosted by a steady stream of salespeople. The internet and infomercials have made it possible for us to shop the world while sitting around in our pajamas. The logos on our clothing, shoes, luggage, and appliances are there to remind us to return to their source when our want refreshes itself. I’ve been trying not to turn my refrigerator into a billboard, what with all the free magnets and notepads from businesses that appear in my mailbox.
Shopping is something that most of us do weekly, if not daily. With the commercialization of Christmas, we have taken a routine and ramped it up, turning it into a frenetic ritual fraught with anxiety. For those of us who believe that Christmas is about the unfathomable love of our creator who sent his Son to redeem our souls and reunite us with Himself, does this not sound wrong? We give gifts to express our love for each other. If someone gives me a nose hair twizzler, what exactly does she mean by this? Besides, how many times have you heard someone say, “I have no idea what to give her?” It’s because most of us have everything we need. If we want something, we go out and pick it up. We want. We want. We want. Things get ratty, go out of style, or get outdated, and we skitter off to our nearest and dearest retailer.
A number of years ago, we attended a function for a club our children are a part of at the church. They invited an Ethiopian man, Tad, to talk about his childhood in Africa. He called the kids to the front to do a craft with him. One by one, they reached into bag he was carrying and pulled out a long tube sock. He then distributed a piece of paper each and instructed them to crumple and roll it into a round ball. We all helped with the fabrication. When they were finished, they were told to stuff the ball into the sock and they would have an Ethiopian sock-er ball.
I told my husband the whole exercise caused me to feel sad. The thought of all those beautiful African children kicking around a tube sock-er ball made me want to weep, until I saw what happened next. Our children began to play. Soon the gymnasium was raining tube sock-er balls. Shrieks and giggles bounced off the walls and upturned faces were brightened with joy.
Above the bustle, Tad reminded them to be grateful for whatever they received on Christmas day and to remember to use their imaginations to make their own fun. I was reminded again that Christmas, even life, is not about inanimate objects, but about the God who loves and blesses us and about people who use what they’ve been given to support, build up, and inspire each other. This is how we can honor each other, by giving ourselves away just as Jesus did. I’d rather have you than a lint shaver.
Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂