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"Pace is all. Rhythm is master. Consistency is your friend."

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Greening of Christmas

Commerce is of trivial import; love, faith, truth of character, the aspiration of man, these are sacred.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was a lass, I used to associate the color green with the Christmas tree, happiness, and carefully drinking from a Christmas mug with a green tree painted on it that was filled with crème de menthe. (Ok I really prefer hot chocolate, particularly when I was underage, but that throws off the color scheme). Within the last two years, however, I have begun to associate green with money, American Express, the LL Bean credit card, and the Grinch. Funny how they all happen to be the same color, and funny how they come together in the same thought. When you combine Christmas, money, credit cards, and hot chocolate, you get… commercialization.

Apparently the commercialization of Christmas started in the year 2005. Let’s see…that year I thought there were commercials for cars, clothes and video games. I think that there were even ads in magazines. It’s kind of hard for me to remember because for some really strange reason, it must be fatigue from traveling for Thanksgiving, it seems like it was just like the Christmas before it. However, I know for a fact that it was not like Christmas 2004. How do I know that? Because I distinctly remember hearing in our church in 2005 that Christmas had now become commercialized. I gripped my pew bench in shock from this announcement. How could this be? I shrank down below the pew to hide from the scary Christmas ghost of Commercialization Present (who Dickens would have included in A Christmas Carol if he were alive today). Although I couldn’t see him, I felt sure he was there with his greedy eyes and brand-new, green Gap sweater that was advertised on TV. Would he know that I had given to charity that year? That I actually took the time to carefully choose charities so as to try to make a difference? Or would he judge me because I…gasp…actually enjoy the holidays. Or that…bigger gasp… I look forward to the holidays?

And then it dawned on me: I was part of the commercialization conspiracy. I felt faint at this realization. I love it when the mall is decorated and the Christmas lights are lighted. Wait! Maybe I was not just part of the conspiracy. I quickly checked my wallet for a membership card. To my horror, there was my green Master Card, surely the commercialization of Christmas ID. I must be ..gulp...a leader in the commercialization conspiracy. Yes, I look forward to Christmas all year long. I take pleasure in choosing the perfect gift for my family and friends and I really love receiving gifts.

I also thought I celebrated Christmas as a season of love and peace and placed that above gifts, but clearly I was wrong. Hey, I was unknowingly a leader in the commercialization of Christmas after all. Obviously this was a crisis. I mean not only did I not realize that Christmas had become commercialized since the year before, but clearly I was losing my memory. I could have sworn that in years past people gave each other gifts and that there were tons of advertisements on TV. In fact I thought…I probably shouldn’t even admit this embarrassingly false recollection…there was some sort of hysteria to get cabbage patch kid dolls back during the holiday season of 1983 involving fights in the aisles of toy stores. Obviously, this is a false memory. I also have another questionable memory. Actually why even say questionable when it is clearly wrong: it seems like every year I hear that Christmas has become commercialized. As I have stated before here, clearly my memory is unreliable.

This post is part of a blog exchange. My name is Alex Elliot. I am a professional Mom of two cats, a dog, an ant farm, and oh yeah...two boys: a toddler and an infant. While I am visiting Just Thinking, Nancy is sharing her thoughts on my blog at Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting, which is written for those of us who didn't get an instruction manual with our babies and for whom parenting hasn't always gone as planned. On a more serious note the blog is about supporting a woman's ability to make her own choices about parenting including the choice, for whatever reason, not to breastfeed.
Click here to check out the other open letters this month, and to get more info on the blog exchange.

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At 12/01/2006 09:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. It would be great if we could have a balanced approach to the holidays. Enjoy gifts in moderation without guilt that enjoying the gifts makes us bad people. The joy of exchanging gifts that mean something, and the anticipation and excitement of receiving gifts adds a lot of joy ot the holidays, and it should be part of the joy of sharing with family and friends instead of a distraction.

I agree with Nancy's post below that it CAN get out of control. Hence the need for moderation in all things.

At 12/01/2006 11:27:00 AM, Blogger ECR said...

I subscribe to the theory that, in the grand scheme of thing, nothing ever changes. The main themes are as old as time. We just have to figure out how to balance the particulars.

At 12/01/2006 07:00:00 PM, Blogger Linus said...

A special thanks to Alex for being my guest today - let's all just start enjoying the holiday season and leave the stress behind.

Of course it's a commercial racket - didn't Charlie Brown make that observation like 30 years ago? Maybe there's no escaping it, but we can at least make it genuine in our own hearts and homes :)

At 12/01/2006 10:13:00 PM, Blogger Heather said...

I think it's only as commercial as each individual makes it. So I agree, it's no more, no less commercial than other years.

At 12/01/2006 10:26:00 PM, Blogger Mayberry said...

Great insights, Alex and commenters too!

At 12/01/2006 11:23:00 PM, Blogger A. Elliot said...

I would like to thank you for your hospitality and for the hospitality of your readers. It was nice to spend some time Just Thinking...

At 12/02/2006 09:13:00 AM, Blogger Kate said...

It's so true about the commercialism of Christmas. It's easy to forget what it's all about.

At 12/04/2006 11:24:00 AM, Anonymous Dana said...

I'm late in commenting! I hadn't had a chance to make it over sooner, but I had to say that I haven't had Creme de Menthe in years! I may have to pick some up!

Great post!


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