The Ghosts of Christmas Past Gifts

7 12 2009

As I was picking up the family room on my day off,  I was struck with memories of my childhood Christmases and how those toys are no longer with me.

I remembered getting Boba Fett’s  Slave One spaceship , and I got quite a bit of Star Wars toys in the 1980’s and how I ended up, because of needing money, selling those toys so I could keep a roof over my head.  I had so much stuff that I would not play with most of what I had.

What really struck off these memories?   Look at this:

This is my three girl’s toy bins.  I realized that at least 90% of the toys were bought for Christmas.  Some have not been touched for months.  The bins are organized, well at least they have tags on them to tell the kids where each toy goes.   But as I looked at the bins, there are toys that don’t belong in certain bins or came from some other toy that has been long gone, or has missing pieces, such as the puzzles.

What amazes me is that to make our kids happy, we buy them “stuff”.   And then they move on from the toys, unless they become a collector and keep them, onto different, more expensive toys.  This habit started with me, of course, and I grew up in a house where you didn’t throw things away because it might be worth something someday, or could come in handy.   Look at the picture again.  What is really  “handy” about a mess of toys stuffed into cubby holes?  What is necessary about having so many toys that even three kids can’t play with them all every moment of the day?

I used to have a giant VHS movie collection.  Either store bought, taped off the cable or even the dreaded pirated versions of movies.   At least 300 or so.  Each movie was 90 mins. to 3 hours depending on the film.  How did I ever think I was gonna be able to watch all that.  Before the days of recycling VHS, I found a company on line that does recycling VHS and Cassettes,  I had to dump most of my VHS or try to get someone to take it.  Now most places won’t exchange these old things or even take them, because, just like the toys in the picture, they are not new and don’t hold our attention.

We are a nation of over-consumers.  We are loosing  jobs overseas because it is “cheaper” to make it there instead of here.  And the media doesn’t help us either because, like a drug addict, we are addicted to shopping and overspending to show our love.

Last year, the stories of the “patrons” going out on Black Friday, running over each other to get that “bargain” on the “special of the day” and bragging over getting it were numerous.

This year more people are still going out and buying, buying, buying.  Well I am saying  “Bye-Bye” to that.  I have to admit that because of the way I spent and used my credit cards before I got married has put me in a spot.  I can’t spend the way the season demands of me.  I’m happy about that.

Our family has asked Santa Claus this year to give us funds for a summertime family vaction for next year.  We are asking the grandparents and friends that want to give gifts to either contribute to the girl’s college funds or get us gift cards to clothing stores or book stores.  NO TOYS!

That goes for me too.  I have enough movies to enjoy and Netflix is a great service that we pay for so I watch movies.

This is very hard to do and sometimes I feel like I’m a ‘junkie” needing his shopping fix.   Growing up in the 1980’s didn’t help this.  We became  a country of “I’s” and that each person was important to themselves.

This goes against what Jesus taught.  We are to serve each other, not crave material things, though they are good, and to love one another unconditionally.   But that doesn’t happen in our culture too often in a dualistic society.

But what if we can change the tide of getting and start giving ourselves back to each other.   Black Friday has come and gone, and yet again there won’t be a “Merry Christmas” unless we go and shop!   My family will have a Merry Christmas, and it will be without the “trappings” of the season.

Thinking that happiness comes from a store,  that is a lie.

The other night, I sat down at my piano and started to play Christmas songs.  My second daughter, Beth, came over and started singing along.  AND WE HAD FUN DOING IT!

We purchased a $10 dollar tree, who’s money went to a local school’s PTA group, and decorated it all the while HAVING FUN WHILE DOING IT!

There has been no pressure to go and buy gifts, but there has been an ache in my shopping reflex that wants to take over.  But it will not because SHOPPING FOR GIFTS IS NOT FUN!!   At least NOT for me anymore.

Perhaps the ghosts of Christmas Past are fading from memory and the right now, This Christmas, has taken the forefront.  Instead of being jaded about the holiday this year, I will actually enjoy myself.

The most precious gift of all, aside from Jesus’ Way, is the gift of memories of good times with the family and with friends.  Or new friends.

My hope for this season is to be able to invite some of my Twitter friends to a meal, or meet them say at Wiffies Pies in SE Portland.  To be a peacemaker out in the world, instead of keeping the commercialism “healthy” which drives an insane economy.

My hope is that all people will receive the gift of peace and actually open it up and use it this year.   Accept who you are now and let the Spirit of the season change your attitude.  My going without the toys, gifts, and (oh my I can’t believe I’m gonna type this) DVD movies is a great relief and my days are becoming  joyful and joy-filled.

Peace be with You.

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