A challenge: The season of greed is upon us

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This week is Thanksgiving and init seems that instead of pausing to be thankful it is a sign that Christmas is coming.

With Christmas comes commercials, sales, and retailers pushing the latest product and trying to entice you to spend more.

Because what would Christmas be without gift giving?

Gift giving means thinking of others and finding that perfect item.

So we spend weeks stressed about whether the gift will be just right. We worry about whether the recipient will like it.

We start looking at our gifts as a measure of how much the person means to us. The more extravagant and expensive the gift the greater the person’s value. One stop by Pinterest tells me that even our homemade gifts have leaped to new epic levels.

American families add on mountains of credit card debt as a way of proving their love and appreciation. It doesn’t stop with family members. There are office parties, acquaintances, long lost aunts and uncles, pets, and even neighbors that you should buy gifts for.

All to keep up appearances.

It is no wonder that the stores have capitalized on this. They see this as the perfect opportunity to creatively market toward our insecurities. I don’t fault them, they are just seeing an opportunity and leaping.

We can stop it any time. But we don’t.

We go out and spend, we buy, we stress, some even lose sleep. We throw out budgets and responsible spending habits all because we have to give gifts.

Retailers are getting more bold with their marketing. They no longer try to sugar coat the reason for the season. Look no further than this year’s TJ Maxx commercial. In the middle of it they proudly declare to get the “tastiest, biggest, loudest, most coveted…” gift.

Most coveted.

Because Christmas isn’t just about giving a gift to another. It is about finding what they covet the most and giving it to them, right?

If it is the most coveted gift, that means they are measuring your gift to another. They are looking at you and thinking, “nope, not what I wanted” or “not good enough.”

That may not be true, but it is sure what the commercial implies.

Christmas is not here yet but we’re already obsessing about that perfect gift.

This year I’m issuing a challenge.

First we must deal with Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is about being thankful.

But we’ve even twisted that materialistically. A lot of times we list “what” we’re thankful for on our lists.

So as you sit down on Thursday and reflect on what you’re thankful for, I challenge you to add something to your list….who?

Who are you thankful for and why? Have you told them recently? If not, perhaps now is the right time.

Second, as we head into Christmastime look inside yourself and ask three simple questions:

  1. What is your reason for giving? I’m not talking about charity work or donating toys, I’m speaking of the gifts you buy for others. Are you giving a gift because you desire to or out of social obligation?
  2. What would happen if you didn’t give that gift? Giving gifts to everyone and their dog can get very expensive. If you still would like to give the person a gift, would a plate of cookies be adequate. If the person is expecting an extravagant gift and your relationship will change if you don’t follow through, it might be time to rethink that relationship.
  3. When you receive something, what is the first thing that goes through your mind? Are you comparing it to past gifts or weighing its value? Lower your expectations and truly be thankful. I know it is cliche, but it is time we as a society started living out the model, “it is the thought that counts.”

 

So as we go into this very busy season I challenge you to stop. Stop and look inside. Are your thoughts centered around things or people?

I am striving to be more people centered this year and I challenge you to join me.

~Crystal

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