Tonight, as my hubby and I sat watching the evening news and flicking through the few channels that our antenna gets, it seemed that a sad theme was jumping out at us…
*Click* We heard about the deadly toll that the recycling of electronics takes on workers in India. We watched both adults and children working away to provide for their families by investing both their time and health into dismantling toxic waste that we, as Canadians, ship to them as recyclable electronic waste.
Then, *Click*, there was the story about whether we should really be using that harsh “C” word at this time of year… Christmas! The marketers weighed in arguing that Canada is a multi-cultural country and so “Christmas” just isn’t relevant anymore for this “Winter Holiday Season”.
Just before the news came on *Click* we caught a few minutes of a documentary about life in the mid to late 1800’s. What a stark contrast to today! People then has so much less, wasted so much less, threw out so much less. These were the people who raised and taught our grandparents and great-grandparents. They laid down the foundation for the life and families and country that we now have.
And yet, *Click*, the commercials point out the gluttonous buying frenzy that the corporate world would encourage us to indulge in at this time of year. This is thought of as progress.
This is the kind of progress that has brought us other interesting phenomena like the show that friends discussed with us over dinner tonight… *Click*: “Extreme Couponing”. I know, I don’t have cable or a satellite so I haven’t seen a whole episode but watching short snippets on YouTube has just made me cringe.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I am about the most frugal girl there is around… If I can get around buying something I will. I love borrowing and lending. Bartering is awesome and from time to time I’ve been known to clip a coupon here and there.
But tonight I saw clips of people who had stockpiled 150 years worth of deodourant just because the coupon made it nearly free. Do they ever wonder what they are going to do with 150 years worth of deodourant? Or who ends up paying the real price when they are clearing out the stores for next to free? The prices will go up! What about the cost of devoting so much of your valuable time to shopping when you could save the same amount by growing your own food. You get double the value by saving the money and getting fresh, organic food over processed, packaged food. Don’t we all lose when our focus is on getting stuff and not on saving money or even better on enjoying the life that God has given us.
Of course there is a time and place for couponing but we need to make the distinction between wisely investing our money and hording. Looking over stockpiles of cake mixes, deodourants and dishwasher detergents just makes me imagine all that is invested in these items that a cash register receipt doesn’t tally. There’s the cost, in time, of searching and planning for these purchases – often without regard for the need for the items. There is the cost of finding storage space for all of the stuff, buying shelving, heating garages that would otherwise be cold, mortgage payments for larger homes with extra storage space that might otherwise not be needed. I think of the extra gas in the car as I would drive out the store again and again to get that one more deal. Then I think long and hard of all of the impulse buys that we really get caught on when we go out to buy these treasures. The stores rely on those! Extreme couponing may work for some but there are certainly more costs involved.
Again, I hate having this beautiful time of year, when we anticipate the coming of our Lord at Christmas, overshadowed by so much commercialism. *Click* (Off goes the TV.) Someone who wisely explained the stuff monster is Annie Leonard on her short videos at www.storyofstuff.com. Interestingly, she points out that, while we have more stuff and more luxuries than any time before in history, we aren’t happier.
One way that we like to combat the Stuff Monster at this time of year and to refocus the giving onto the guy whose birthday we are actually celebrating is by giving gifts to him. These gifts are the ones that get to the poor and hungry since he said,
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:35-40
We love Christmas in our home so we don’t want to miss out on the food, the parties, the gifts, and the happy crooning of Bing Crosby in the background, but it must be that – background music to accompany gifts that Jesus actually gets. Here are some places that we have bought our birthday gifts for Jesus in the past.
Happy hunting folks, as you seek to honor Him whose birthday we celebrate.
Peace and Joy!