Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Post-Holiday Aftermath

Bringing everything home, it begins to feel like this whole Christmas thing was a mistake. Maybe the kids don't need more stuff. Maybe none of us need more stuff. So an intensive sort of all toys took place to clear away the old and make room for the new. And again, for maybe the fifth year running (note the correlation with Aleks receiving presents), a reconsideration on who should be gift-giving and how and what...

We seem to cut back every year and yet thus far we've only seemed to increase the children's sense of entitlement and expectations. Admittedly, this is an age-appropriate response to receiving and there is a lot of sweetness, love, and a spirit of giving amongst the greedy gobbling of goods. Nonetheless, it is a somewhat disturbing representation of our values.

We don't want to be buried with stuff and we don't want to support the current climate of commercialism and consumerism any more than...we do want to, I guess. Of course we buy things. We enjoy our toys and our computers and our giant robotic dinosaur. We are a part of this culture. This is our context, as much as we venture to its extremist edges philosophically.

At the same time, we want to be careful about what we want... The only thing to do is to encourage a spirit of cooperation, a volunteer ethic, giving in addition to receiving, and a sense of community, emphasize the meanings we assign these holidays and traditions, clear out the old, eliminate excess, redirect some of our media consumption, remind the boys why they don't need everything they see, and have patience with their under-developed minds that don't quite get it.

In addition to that, I'm going to put a halt to extended family gifts next year, find ways to avoid advertising more, commit to more activities that have nothing to do with stuff or that have more to do with giving, re-watch The Story of Stuff with them and peruse The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood website.

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