Today we gather with friends and family around the table of thanksgiving and we may hold hands, we may say grace. We may take a moment to share what we are all grateful for, but at midnight thousands, and quite possibly millions of Americans will put on their coats and binge shop like their lives depended on it. Tomorrow is November’s only full moon and while people are shopping for others will they pause and look up to the heavens and look at the moon? Many will say they go through this bizarre ritual for their children.
Children are the reason for the images of Santa Claus at this time of year, the reason for buying gifts. We do this to show our children the spirit of giving, to give is better to receive…And the mobs of shoppers waiting in the wee hours outside the mall for the doors to open, what example does that show our children. Children are always, always watching our example we show them and what being an adult means. Sure we have the power, authority, and the means to shop from midnight to 7a.m. to get what we want, but do we have the courage to say, “No! I am not this person that forces other people to work the night shift just so I can go shopping.”
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, what an odd and foreboding term to begin the celebration of the birthday of a savior. There is evidence to suggest that Jesus Christ was not actually born on December 25th. I find it unlikely that the day was ordained so that two thousand years later we could purchase battery operated toys from Asia, to wrap in paper that deforested land previously inhabited by endangered species, and place it all around a pine tree that once was the winter home of North American birds. Human beings are supposedly the most intelligent creatures on the planet and yet we behave more like the spoiled greedy children for the latest gadget we tell our own children not to be like.
Jesus Christ if you have read the New Testament spoke about people living with a lot less baggage. Of course there is the spiritual side of Christianity and regardless how I spend my Sunday mornings I refuse to dictate others follow my example; however when it comes to spoiling the only place any of us have ever called home I stand up and say, “Whoa!”
Before you look at your shopping list, before you print out coupons pretend it’s January 10th, 2019 and your credit card statement has just arrived. How much of that list is worth paying 26% interest for the next twelve to eighteen months. Those purchases could still be collecting interest next Christmas. Now picture if you will a church nativity scene, any church nativity scene, do you see the evergreen covered in ornaments? What about Mary with her new tablet and Joseph with the latest cellular phone so he can watch all his sporting events? How about the baby Jesus, is he wearing designer clothing? No, because if you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and I do mean as in God the creator of the entire universe and Earth; and if you follow the Holy Bible than you will understand that as an adult Jesus’ message was about adults doing with less, not more.
Am I trying to convert anyone to a particular religion? No, because no matter how I feel in my faith that goes against my staunch American views that people should be able to decide for themselves if there is a hereafter and how they wish to spend it. Thinking for ourselves is what I am trying to say, do not be a cog in the great machine of commerce and greed. Being a smart human being means not strapping ourselves down in debt just so a manufacturer can ship plastics by the ton across the big blue ocean. Eventually all those purchases will break, or fade and we’ll have to decide how to recycle it. And here is my last word, what if all the stuff we buy from faddish clothes to the cat’s used kitty litter we had to warehouse in our own backyard or our apartment? Well we do actually, because this planet is the only backyard we will ever have and the more we buy the more waste we have to manage, to mind and that’s more headaches for our children’s children. So this day after Thanksgiving give the gift that your grandchildren will really appreciate, a healthy planet.
I am winding down my series The Art Guild, today is the last before the finale on December 22nd. We have all made a journey over the last twelve months and though it may not have been a physical voyage of discovery but surely an emotional one. I have found I loved working with soft pastels and this is a medium I look forward to playing with again and again. What new experience and exciting opportunity is waiting for us just around the corner of time in the New Year? What will we learn about ourselves and those around us we care for? The thing that may be important thing to remember is that a comet only moves in one direction, forward. Its bright trail may revisit a particular galaxy, and move forward to a new one. May we all be that bright example for others to follow.