I still remember the aggravating Christmas mornings when my oldest daughter, the most spoiled of the four, would hover around the tree, waiting to be handed her gifts from Santa. Then, she’d tear off the wrapping paper in anticipation, pull out the gift, look at it momentarily, shrug, toss it aside and immediately reach for the next box.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy New Year!
My holiday spirit sank lower than the Gross Domestic Product after the 2008 financial collapse. “So this is what Christmas is all about,” I thought, “giving and getting and getting and getting and getting more.” Where did I go wrong?
Every Christmas, I vowed that the next year would be different, but it wasn’t. How had my wife and I created such a tribe of ravenous child consumers addicted to “stuff”? I suspect that in many ways they took after me because, I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve often been obsessed with striving for more. But having and getting more isn’t the purpose of life.
I usually ended the Christmas morning festivities with a sermon that started something like this, “When I was a boy … things were different.” Then, I promptly shared stories about how I’d get an apple in my stocking, some white athletic socks that I wore with penny loafers, and my own pair of nail clippers. And that was a good year.
At which point they all shrugged and started to barter among themselves, swapping gifts they didn’t like for something someone else had. It was worse than a marketplace in Cairo.
Their behavior didn’t deter me, however. “When I was a boy,” I persisted, “we appreciated what we got -- no matter what we got. Every year, my mother gave me underwear. Do you think I rolled my eyes or sneered when I opened the box? No! I pretended to be excited and promptly put them on and ran outside to show the neighbors. You guys are ingrates.”
Predictably, no new Barbie, no new Fisher-Price car, no new Cabbage Patch Kid or Smurf or Beanie Baby could satisfy that overpowering desire for more. They weren’t sure what “more” was, only that they wanted it.