Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The 'Get What You Really Wanted' Sale
Last night before bed I was attempting to tidy up the kitchen counter a bit when my eyes fell on the sales circulars for today. The 'Get What You Really Wanted' sale ads just blew me away. Stores are capitalizing on our dissatisfaction with the gifts we received for Christmas and encouraging the idea that we are entitled to have 'what we really wanted' for Christmas. It's so sad, and yet today the stores will be filled with customers taking back gifts, not because they don't fit, but because it wasn't what they really wanted - or just to get the cash. It's no wonder that people are discouraged from buying gifts for others - knowing that it will be exchanged, re-gifted, or end up at Goodwill is enough to make anyone feel like Scrooge. Even the whole gift card thing is a waste since something like 1/3 of them will never be redeemed. It's a shame.
It's all about expectations and building them up beyond all reality. It's also about people driving themselves crazy to meet those unrealistic expectations. I ran to the grocery store quickly the other day to get a few things I knew we would need over Christmas. It was crazy busy and the shelves were often bare or almost bare. Everyone was in a hurry and grim faces greeted me at every turn. Exhaustion and stress were in the air and there was no time for the pleasantries. I was in a long line for the check out and gave a bright smile to the lady behind me. She scowled and swore at me, asking what I had to be smiling about and generally insulting and belittling my beliefs as I briefly shared the joy of Christmas for Believers with her. It made me really sad to hear her tirade, but as I've reflected more on what she said, I feel more sorry for her than anything. She was totally stressed about finding just the right gifts, preparing just the right meal and having her home ready for the holidays. She was racking her brain to think of something to give to that hard to buy for husband, and knew that most of what she chose would just be taken back or sit on a shelf, never to be used. While I didn't appreciate her coarse language or the personal insults she lavished on me, I understood her feeling of pushing herself to make an effort knowing that is was probably not going to be appreciated. Christmas just doesn't make sense without Christ.
My husband asked me about a month ago if I really wanted diamonds for Christmas. I laughed and asked him where he got that idea from. He mentioned that all of the t.v. ads, radio commercials, and newspaper fliers were insisiting that every woman needs a diamond for Christmas in order to be truly happy and satisfied. He felt like the advertisers were saying that any other gift would be woefully inadequate. The thing is, while that may be true for some women, it isn't true for me. I have a beautiful diamond on my left hand and I am more than satisfied with it. In this season of my life, practical and useful gifts are very appreciated. I love pretty things, but I I like it best when something I use everyday is both pretty and practical, and I personally don't appreciate spending a great deal of money on something that is just purely for looks. That's just me. I wasn't expecting diamonds, so I wasn't unhappy with the thoughtful gifts my family selected for me - in fact, I was very happy with everything!
I remember as I child a Christmas when my teacher at school had us make a long list for 'Santa' as a writing exercise. She has us 'dream big' and make a really extensive, specific list of our wants and wishes. We brought in the Sears 'Wish Book' and poured over it for hours writing down exactly what we wanted. I got an "A+" on my creative writing assignment. That was the first Christmas that I wasn't satisfied with what I got for Christmas. I was 11 and I remember going to my bedroom and crying great tears of disappointment. Once I had written down my long list of wants, I began to feel like anything less than the sum total of the list was inadequate. My expectations were high, but the reality was it wouldn't have been good for me to get everything I wanted, and my parents knew that. I remember my mum coming into my room and talking about how I felt. She helped me to look at what I had been given with a grateful heart and encouraged me to be content with what I had. I remember leaving my bedroom and going back to the tree and carefully looking over each thing and deciding to enjoy the gifts I'd received - and I did!
A gift is a gift. It is not something we earn, deserve or have a right to. It is not something that we should be critical of or be ungrateful for. Whether it is for Christmas or any other special occasion, we need to have grateful hearts. It all boils down to contentment - knowing that no THING is going to bring peace and satisfaction to our hearts - despite what the advertisers are constantly trying to tells us! Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and for ever - He is the One who fills our hearts with JOY!
Our children are good examples to me. They woke up very early yesterday morning and were excited about opening their stockings in their rooms. Everything they opened was exclaimed over and chatted about. I over heard 'Wow sister, look at this!' and 'Look brother, isn't this nice!' over and over again. Every gift had to be brought in to their half asleep Daddy to show him (even though he had wrapped them all and stuffed their stockings!), and it's virtues were extolled! They only had time to open a few gifts before we went to our friends for a lovely Christmas dinner, but they were happy with that. When we got back home and finished opening their gifts at 7 pm we got big hugs and exclamations of 'thank you - I love it' and 'we're so blessed'! I pray that they will always be so easily satisfied with the simple things in life.