Sunday, November 25, 2007


"I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel" - Charlie Brown -

So Christmas is a month away and the malls are filled with throngs of shoppers, already overwhelmed by the call to consume relentlessly. I made the mistake of cutting through a Wal-Mart in order to get to another destination in my local mall. Within seconds I was completely overwhelmed by the blinding mass of blinking and neon everything and the concentrated smell of plastic coming from the mountainous aisles.

Actually, this season I have been feeling a lot like Charlie Brown circa the 1960's era Peanuts Christmas Special. I have been walking around, my head to the ground, complaining constantly to anyone who will listen about the over commercialization of the holidays. I can almost hear the music of the Vince Guaraldi Trio following me around as I ruminate endlessly on this topic. Seeing as "Chuck" was complaining about it 40 years a go it is obviously not a new phenomena, though for some reason it has really hit me this year.

I am not trying to be all self righteous and imply that I am above some form of gift purchasing this holiday, its just that I think I have reached a sort of psychic tipping point where I am suddenly aghast at the degree of consumption that is promoted and practiced this time of year. I get really irritated by the endless news reports that imply that the entire fate of the economy is contingent on how much people purchase this holiday season. It turns something that should be a joyful and selfless act into a sort of patriotic effort to keep the wealth circulating around.

This year, all the adults in my family have thankfully resolved not to buy gifts for each other. The kids will get a few, though we are attempting to go for quality, rather than quantity this time and buy almost exclusively from an independent toy store I used to go to in my old neighbourhood. Its the type of place where the people who work there actually play with the toys and have a vested interested in assuring high quality.

Its a small step I know, but I think it will help dissipate the Pig-Pen like psychic dirt cloud that has been following me around thus far. Besides, its hard to find a good therapist for a nickel these days.


robyn bright said...

I too have been struggling wiht that feeling- so what I've found worked for me this year was to think back to my childhood- to the moments that held meaning for me as a kid, adn try to give that to my kids.
I've been buying minerals/stones (they love rocks) and fossils because not only are they pretty & the girls love them but also it fosters a sense of wonder and mystery in the world again- & in the importance of treasuring this world that we are living upon.

I also bought them the JRR Tolkien letters from Father Christmas because they are funny endearing letters full of elf trouble which I so love!

And I spent most of my time shoping online over a cup of coffee away from teh Mauls where I could make more conscious (as opposed to my terribly impulsive typical purchase style)choices.
and I actauly feel ecited about it this year for the first tiem in a while so it worked for me.

I was n Walmart for the first tiem in years last week with my Lil Bro- it was demoralizing adn ugly adn I felt bad for the people who have to work in this environment. And I'm not a snob I just want people not to be drained by the vacuum that has December has become.
Mind you I guess it's all about the darkness and the extreme consumeristic frenzy is indeed our world in darkness- at least to me!

I ramble on- thank you for the post- it got me thinking :-)
It's like a virtual cafe in here!

Westcoast Walker said...

Thanks Robyn!

Your comments are always welcome. I think it is an important struggle to think through. It is important to foster wonder excitement in our little ones and not just blindly buy in to the larger social order.

I think your ideas are wonderful - a nice balance between providing an alternative narrative for your children, while still keep the holidays meaningful and not overly politicized.