Friday, November 24, 2006

Merry Stinkin' Christmas

I did it once and I said I'd never do it again. And I haven't. Until this morning...

I got up at 5:09 AM. (I know because the red-numbered monster that is my alarm clock was staring at me with those digits.)

And as I rolled out of bed I headed to the store. I can't tell you what it is I went hunting for until Dec. 26. If I forget and you're still wondering after that, send me a "reply" and I'll tell you what it was and who it was for. That person might stumble across the blog and the whole thing would be blown.

As I was heading down the road there was ONE vehicle on the road with me. It was following me. As I approached the store, I deduced that they must be going to the same place I was. Where else would they be going on this road, at this hour, on this day?

We both pulled into the parking lot. You'd have thought it was the after-work crowd picking up groceries on the way home because there were so many cars patiently waiting for there owners to come back and jam them full of items.

However, once inside, NOBODY was on the grocery side of the store. I was able to pick up the grocery list items with the greatest of cheese (as well as lettuce, frozen peas, and other items for the famous "seven-layer salad" we'd be eating later in the day.)

While the grocery aisles were a wasteland, the electornics and clothing sections had lines in them. At 5:30 in the morning!!

Now I have to admit that I'm all up for a good adventure. The thrill of the hunt can get the best of me too.

But as I stood in line, waiting to purchase the particular secret item I'd gotten up early for, I had to step out of myself and look at us, all of us, who were there to get that perfect item for that special someone. Or were we there simply to get "a deal" on the lastest, flattest, shiniest, coolest thing we just had to have?

It's the day after Thanksgiving and I wonder, "Is this really what the next month will be about?" The guy who enters the store glances at the line in the section of the store he was heading toward, and curses. "Now what am I supposed to do!?" he asks himself and everyone else, none too quietly. "Get in line like the rest of us!" an equally frustrated woman behind me mutters under her breath.

"Merry Christmas" I thought. "Merry stinkin' Christmas."

Now I know that this little diatribe about "the real meaning of Christmas" or "the reason for the season" is cliche. But doesn't it say something about who the real gods of this culture are? Is anything bigger than commercialism, consumerism and materialism?

And don't think I consider myself holier than thou. Remember, I'm standing in line at 5:30 in the morning as I ask the question.

And how do we stand up against it? Do we NOT buy ANYTHING for ANYONE this year and tell them we're takin' Christmas back from Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy?

I hear various pundits drone on about the "war on Christmas" like the idea of saying "happy holiday" is the real culprit. What about people who "celebrate" it by perverting it into a buying orgy of flat screened tvs, mp3 players, wii game systems, sweaters, or whatever?

We try to set limits in our family on spending. We talk to the kids constantly about being stewards with their money and their time and their abilities. We encourage pro-bono babysitting and looking for opportunities to give away and share with others.

Is that enough?

Well, I was next in line. I made my purchase. I walked back to the car, drove home, and it wasn't even 6:30. I guess I'll lie down and get some sleep.

I wish there were some easy answer.

Grace & peace.

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