Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Christmas, Consumerism, and Missing the Moment

Recently, as I walked through a few of my favorite stores I began to see a change taking place. A lot of stores are already gearing up for Christmas. Some are getting ready for Halloween or Thanksgiving, but they are all putting the Christmas product out.

Do I like Christmas? Sure do. I love spending Christmas with my family.
Do I like Christmas consumerism? No! I very much dislike all the spending of money unnecessarily.

I think our culture (or rather the economic culture) has allowed us to miss the moment. Due to the manner in which retail stores function, we do not get to enjoy the moment. You don't buy shorts in the summer, you buy them in the spring. Winter jackets are showing up in the stores at the end of August. Each holiday or season is marketed months before it arrives and then "forgotten" when it arrives. When one holiday approaches it is already time to start thinking about the next one.

This process "forces" some shoppers to miss the enjoyment of celebrating. Think about the Day after Thanksgiving sales. I mean, you have to get up at 3am to get anything. Getting up this early means you have to go to bed early. Going to bed early means you miss spending time with the family on Thanksgiving Day.

Just like everyone else, I think youth workers can fall into this trap within our ministries. We become so focused on promoting an event that we lose sight of the moment. For example, we spend months preparing for and promoting an outreach event. When the event arrives, we spend time promoting our weekly event or the "next big thing." We can become consumed with getting to the next thing that we forget to enjoy (make the most of) the moment.

It doesn't have to be this way. No matter how hard the economic culture tries to grab your attention and get you to be on their time table, you can resist. You can enjoy the moment. Take time and enjoy Thanksgiving without reading the "sale papers" or thinking about how hard its going to be to find that prized Christmas present. Do not allow yourself to get caught up into the consumerism of our culture.

What do you do to combat consumerism? How do you enjoy the moment?

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