The holiday season is here again, as evidenced by my brimming refrigerator, overstuffed family (“Turkey again?”) and rapidly dwindling bank balance.
It’s so hard not to get caught up in all the glitz and frenzy. I don’t shop for very many people – my parents, siblings and I decided years ago we all had plenty of stuff, so made a pact that the adults in the family would not exchange gifts. Most years we all chip in and make a group donation to some charitable effort. My husband and I have also not exchanged gifts in years, preferring to funnel that money into savings or a purchase for the home. So my gift-giving list is limited to my children, in-laws and a few close friends.
But it never fails that throughout the season, I will find the Perfect Gift for most, if not all, of the people I’m not supposed to buy gifts for, while the week before Christmas I’ll still be struggling with what to get my brother-in-law.
Meanwhile, there are so many good deals on so many things I would really like to have, and the overwhelming materialism of the season practically screams at me to buy them. (After all, not having many gifts to buy also means I don’t have many to open, so I’m entitled to make up the difference, right?)
We are always bombarded in our daily life by inducements to buy something. But this time of year, the sales pitches are louder, more insistent, and actually everywhere.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the buy-buy-buy message of December, I recommend hanging out in a church for awhile.
It doesn’t even have to be your church. If you don’t belong to a church, if you don’t even follow a faith tradition, but just celebrate the secular aspect of the holidays, it’s OK. You’re still allowed to go into one and sit down for awhile. It’s often quiet in there. Sometimes there’s music, but the songs have nary a mention of reindeer or jolly elves bringing more stuff.
Most of them have lovely decorations for the holiday, but they’re not decorated in such a way that makes you feel like you should run to the store and pick up a few more wreaths.
If you are a person of faith, it can be a reminder that there are ways to focus on Christmas that have nothing to do with a store or a party or stockings hung with care.
And whether you are a believer or not, it can be calming and centering just to get away from the clamor of marketing for awhile and spend time in a place where Christmas is sacred, not party central.
Here’s wishing you a calm and happy December, wherever you spend it.
Enjoy your MidWeek.