by Paula Morris
I have been reflecting lately on how it came to be that “relationships” have been supplanted in our psyche by “things.”
Easter, Mother’s Day, birthdays, all carry a certain amount of expectation attached to them.
Some expect the typical “Hallmark Holiday” fare like chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, flowers, boxes of candy, birthday cakes, presents.
And while these things are nice to get and give, they are engrained into some of our brains as “the only things” that make the holiday. If we don’t get them, we feel neglected and unloved. If we can’t give them, we feel like failures.
We live in a material world. All around us, via television, ads, signs, stores – are advertisements to buy this, eat that; making consumers of us all.
The every day bombardment of this endless propaganda has taken a heavy toll on our ability to appreciate things in life that cannot be purchased.
To me, it seems as if reality has become the victim of marketing. Our capitalist system is an allusion of life.
Marketers tell us what is in fashion, what to eat, what car to drive, who to vote for, and even who our enemies are.
Our consumer driven life seems to work at the acquiring of more and more objects.
A case in point: My little granddaughter likes to play a game online titled, Webkinz. This game is geared entirely on acquiring “things.” Every point gets you more stuffed animals, furniture, toys, etc.
Acquiring becomes “winning.” This is diabolical! The game is geared toward young children. Marketers are programming little kids to be greedy for more and more stuff.
It doesn’t help that they can go to most any store and there are “Webkinz” toys all over the place!
This past Easter, I had the pleasure of sharing the day with a neighbor friend. The meal we had reminded me of all the Easter meals I ate at home with my family. Sharing time with her family helped to alleviate the loneliness I felt over not having my own family with me.
As I was feeling sorry for myself that evening, I began thinking about why it was that holidays carried such a weighted load of emotion.
Was it just the “Hallmark” concept that a holiday was more important than any other day?
Was family more important on a holiday than on any other day?
The answer to these questions didn’t reveal themselves until after Mother’s Day.
It was on Mother’s Day, when my daughter and family knocked on my door while I was still in bed and brought me a cup of coffee and a fresh baked cinnamon roll.
It was when my daughter and I planted flowers in the garden together later in the day.
It was when I received a call from my oldest daughter wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day and saying how much she missed me.
And it was when I Skyped with my son who is living in another country right now that I knew the answer.
For me, real life is the relationship I form with family, friends and even strangers. Real life is sharing time with each other.
My key to feeling fulfilled is: Connection.
Just as food, water and air are required to sustain life, so too is connection to others.
Holidays are times when many people take a break from their busy world to celebrate whatever it is that is joyous.
Celebrations that are shared by friends and family remind us that we are all part of this life together. We are connected.
Psychologists say that depression and suicides increase during the Holidays. For so many people, expectations that are not met cause this tragic response
We don’t need “things” to make us happy. We just need each other.
I am happiest when I can emotionally connect to those I love.
I can remember a time in my life when I thought I had no one. My children were very young still. I had no family close by and felt so alone.
I took a walk that day to the woods in back of my house. As I turned around to go home – tears in my eyes – I looked down and there beside the road was a cluster of white stars. I looked up with a smile just as the sun began to set and the sky turned purple and orange. The suns rays beamed down on me and I knew I would never be alone again. Who could ask for anything more:
A bouquet of flowers, a painted sky, and the warmth that will never leave?
We would do well to remember, especially in these times, objects we acquire can disappear in a flash, but connections we make with people and our God grow roots deep in our hearts and sustain us throughout our lives.
© 2011 Paula Morris
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What a negative article. You make it sound like ALL people expect and give obligatory gifts. It makes me wonder what kind of environment you live in that makes you so bitter. Research with others might have made your article more credible. I have problems when people make statements that are all inclusive.
Ah, Mary, your ability to get right to the heart of the matter is sublime. Thanks, for your comments.
I’d like to share my thoughts on Paula’s use of the “we” and “us” – all that inclusiveness that you so accurately see. After Paula and I discussed this very issue, I decided to publish the piece as written because I felt Paula was writing more of a poetic story than a journalistic one, and was sharing her view of the world. I loved her little vignette about feeling lost as a single mom, and thought the ending made the story.
You are a gracious man Bruce.
Wow Mary! I don’t know how you got “negative” out of my article? I do believe I said “some expect,” not “everyone expects.” And the fact is, I am very far from “bitter?” Sometimes I am sad, sometimes disappointed, but bitter…no.
The environment I live in Mary, is the same one we all do…..a materialistic, commercialized world where holiday’s are one great big profit making fiasco.
Some of us are lucky enough to avoid the pitfalls of materialism and perhaps you are one of those.
Thanks so much for sharing your realizations. I also have noted how materialistic our society has become. For instance if you say that someone is successful, people automatically assume that the person has money. Success should mean that the person is making progress towards a worthy goal. Money has nothing to do with success. You are certainly successful with your reflections. Thanks, Paula.
Thank you anuttama. You received my message just as I meant it.
Paula, I too see that you have spoken from your heart and not only do I understand but I concur. I see your passion for relationship with one another and believe this is what the Lord created us for, so it is no wonder that you long for this. I thoroughly enjoyed your article and thank you for sharing your heart. May we all begin to find our worth not in things but in the fact that we are fearfully and wonderfully made!
Thank you Requel. I appreciate your loving words.
A friend of mine pointed out today that perhaps my age and having gone through many trials and tribulations in my life has formed a value system that differs from younger people.
As I get older, I see more clearly how “all” is connected.
Have a beautiful day Requel.
And, here I thought Easter was a holiday captured by the Christian church to redirect the faithful’s attention to the Biblical account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . humm, rabbit poop (aka jelly beans) . . .
Easter was captured, Wally? From whom? Judiasm and Passover? Nevertheless, the resurrection was a momentous event in my view, and certainly deserves more than just jelly beans as a commemoration, although it’s a good start.
Your comment was both cute and of course lends itself to the usual controversy and screams by the secular community for political/religious correctness, etc. and by the religious community for honoring the God of Christianity.
In ancient times, before there was any Christian Church, the day we celebrate as Easter, was a pagan solstice celebrating Spring and new life. When Christianity conquered the pagan lands, the holiday was “covered over” so to speak by the Resurrection story, in order to obliterate pagan beliefs…as you noted in your comment.
As I am sure you know, any mention of Christ and the Resurrection on Easter (which is no longer a “corporate” paid holiday) is met with disdain. Hmmm, it seems the Corporate State has decided to “cover over” the Christian Holiday with…..rabbit poop.