Not For Sale

November 19, 2012 § 5 Comments

So we stand on the threshold of holiday insanity, the season of cut-rate electronics, trampled-to-death shoppers, and maxed out credit cards as we attempt to meet the tragically flawed assumptions of what constitutes contentment in twenty-first century America.

It will likely surprise none of you that our family has long ago abandoned the hollow, commercialized version of the season. This is not to say we do not celebrate, or give gifts, only that our celebrations at this time of year do not revolve around gift giving and the gifts we give (and tend to receive) are of modest monetary value, if their value can be measured in monetary terms at all. Last year I made the boys a pair of step stools from chunks of spalted maple I pulled from our neighbor’s sugarwoods. Penny knit some hats and something else that slips my mind. The boys get stockings full of the small, utilitarian particulars that help fill their days: .22 rounds, electrical tape, colored pencils, arrow fletching. Sometimes, someone gets a book. And that’s about it.

It is sad to me to see the continued expansion of the holiday shopping season, which now seems to include the one holiday that has somehow managed to avoided becoming overtly commercialized: Thanksgiving. Because as it turns out, this November certain of our nation’s largest retail chains will open on Thanksgiving night for the first time. Ah, yes, nothing better than a good session at Wal Mart to truly honor the spirit of the day. Whatever. I love Thanksgiving, and will continue to love it, in no small part because I love to eat, but also because it seems to me as pure an expression of inclusionary celebration as any that currently exists. For the past few years, we’ve hosted an open door Thanksgiving that includes whatever friends and family members would like to join us. It’s generally an eclectic group, ranging in age from 3 to 73, full of folks who would probably never break bread together otherwise. I love them all, but of course if any of them leave early to hit the opening bell at Wal Mart, I will beat them about the head with half-gnawed drumstick.

To those whose livelihood depends on the glut of material consumption associated with the next six or so weeks, I am sorry: You will be seeing few, if any, of my dollars. It is not that I don’t like you, or think that you are bad. Rather, it is simply that I have evolved into a mighty sense of where my own happiness and contentment are fed and watered. And it is not at a cash register.




§ 5 Responses to Not For Sale

  • ncfarmchick says:

    Amen! I wrote a meditation for a meeting of the Vestry at my church with this same sentiment. I was pleased and surprised it made its way into the Opinion section of my local paper. Makes me hope others feel the same way, too. The one exception I make for Christmas shopping is to support local charity thrift shops such as the one I chair for my church. A little gift of a previously-owned item keeps one less thing out of landfills and the money goes to support organizations to help those in need. This is the only non-essential shopping I can get behind. I am grateful for your writing and your willingness to share your thoughts. Thank you!

  • Jennifer Fisk says:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if opening on Thanksgiving backfires on the stores who choose to do so. OK so I dream.
    You have the right sentiment for the day. Wish I lived close enough to enjoy your open house.

  • Thanks for this.
    To live simply is to be free.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Jeannie says:

    Ben, I’m with you on this one! Happy non-retail Thanksgiving to all. Sorry I missed you when came to Ohio. I’ve heard excellent reviews.

  • [...] this and this inspired me today. it was just what i needed. [...]

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