For the first time in three years, I’m actually getting commercials. In our new home, our Spectrum internet service comes with a TV app that has 25 channels. Now that the days are shorter, I can’t be outside until 8:30-9 o’clock, so I’ve been settling in for some Property Brothers on HGTV on Wednesday nights.
I’ve been surprised at the number of commercials versus actual show. I know the statistics, but to actually watch it… WOW.
What I find more troublesome though is the message behind all the advertisements. Your wife will only know you love her if you find the perfect piece of jewelry. Your kids won’t feel loved if you don’t by them the latest toy, cell phone, etc. Your husband won’t feel loved if he doesn’t get a new grill, toolbox, car kit, etc.
I can count on one hand the number of Christmas presents that made me feel loved. One was flatware holder that one of my stepdaughters made me. She found a post I liked on Pinterest, and she made it for me. It still sits on my table. It wasn’t the money she spent. It was the time, thought, and love that went into it.
One special gift was a set of coasters that another of my stepdaughters made me. Another was a beautiful nightlight my Aunt made me. Another was drawing my daughter did for me. All of them were handmade and took time, thought, and love.
Most of the Christmas gifts I’ve received ended up at Goodwill shortly after Christmas. Most were things I didn’t need or want. I remember a particular mantel clock that my grandmother (God rest her crazy soul) gave me not once but twice.
I have to wonder why we put so much pressure on ourselves to buy, buy, buy when what we need more of is love and presence. We need more special moments of connection and less things to get in the way.
Back in the early 2000s, I watched an interview will Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age. He was talking about how his family only exchanged pre-owned or handmade gifts. A decade before the Minimalists hit the scene, McKibben suggested that we spent too much time loving things and not enough time loving people.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging women who love diamonds or men who love grills. I’m just suggesting that “He went to Jared’s” doesn’t work for all women. I’m just suggesting that some of us would rather have a husband who makes toys out of rags for her 115 pound dog. Some of us would rather have handmade gifts. Some of us would rather have no tree and a full heart.
For me, Christmas is all about the church celebrations. I haven’t put up a tree in years. I have a single advent wreath my daughter made me, and that’s more than enough. I suspect there are more people like me who want more time and more connection and could live without all the stuff advertisers tell us we need to be happy.
It’s really only the most wonderful time of the year if it fills your soul with peace and love.
How are you feeling this holiday season?