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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