Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Crunch That Stole Christmas

Overheard in the long line at the post office:

"I think it's easier to just send money."

Certainly the Crunch, when you and those around you are in the spirit, is part of the fun - seeing others mulling over and snapping up and wrapping up stuff to give to others can be a joy, surely ought to be a joy.

But then, we Americans in the Material World do go overboard.

Heard on the radio program "Marketplace" this evening: The total national debt, including government debt, corporate debt and personal debt, for every adult and child in the United States is: $136,000.

So overboard we go, when somewhere there's a faint echo of that melancholy Charlie Brown chorus, the shaking off of dried pine needles, the Christian call for utter humility. Not just overboard but doing the Big Disconnect at the same time.

So yes it's hard to keep it all at bay and to do the season and the day the right way.

On "All Things Considered," host Michelle Norris did a piece about her LFTs or Least Favorite Toys, most of them loud, all of them to any sane person, somehow obnoxious. And they're popular, too. Plenty of Americans like obnoxious gifts. Seems there's a mean streak in there somewhere, and what would any peace loving person say about that? Ninja fighters for Christmas? Spank Me Elmo? A little mayhem under the mistletoe?

And parents say they are victims and that their children are victims, that the culture and the TV made them do - or kept them from not doing it. A sure sign of overboard and blinders: have so many really lost the ability to say "no"? And the wisdom to know when and how to say "no, I know those things attract your attention and are popular, but we've got better things to play with and better things to do"?

So the Crunch that's stealing Christmas is not just the crunch of crowds and credit cards and surly last minute shoppers, it's the crunch of lilly-livered weakness, the fear of principle, the fear of restraint, the fear of how to make less really be MORE - more value, more heart, more soul, more substance, more astute amibition, more peace and quiet, more quality time - and less quantity of STUFF that, sooner or later, is all headed to the landfill.


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