This post is written in honor of my best friend who is dedicating 27 months of her twenties to promoting peace in Uganda as a member of the Peace Corps. She straddles two cultures, struggling to reconcile the excess of wealth in America with the extreme poverty in Africa.
Tis the season for materialism. It’s everywhere, already. The retailers are in a frenzy, including myself, all trying to capitalize on Christmas. The holiest day of the year for Christians.
As for the rest of us, it’s an excuse to eat more sweets and buy more stuff, cluttering our homes with toys, clothes, gear, attempting the impossible feat of filling emotional voids with material possessions. It’s like putting sand in a swimming pool. You’re not going to get anywhere.
New boots are not going to fix your insecurities. A dollhouse will not tuck your daughter in at night. A computer game cannot force your teenage son to converse with you. An iPad will not make your spouse fall in love all over again. Expensive face cream will not render your mother ageless nor speechless.
Christmas can still be the happiest time of year, if we focus on people in need rather than people in want. If we take the time to volunteer in our community, to practice generosity and to spread love to everyone, even our unknown neighbors.
In moderation, gift-giving can be soul-satisfying and an opportunity to get creative. But not when it’s the only way we know how to show our love. Not when we’re drowning our feelings in plastic and gift wrap.
The new Wish List Browser Button from Amazon (I still love Amazon) is one of many examples as to how tightly materialism grips our society for the last two months of the year. Now, we can keep track of everything we want in one handy list. The more we find, the more we want, so we keep a vigil on eBay and fight for a parking spot at the mall.
Meanwhile, children will continue to starve in Africa and war will continue to ravage the Middle East.
The first step is awareness. So what do we do now?
To be continued…