I watch my co-workers inching closer to insanity as the days to Christmas become fewer. The planning, the parties, the lights, the gifts. The commercialization of our holidays has turned from an expression of heartfelt gratitude, into a race to rack up crushing debt. A desire to give the most expensive gifts, only exceeded by an insurmountable greed to receive them. I don’t understand, at what point in time, did our society start believing giving was about money? Love was about a piece of carbon crushed and polished into a shiny bauble. Or a cell phone, that received, will garner the attention of your children forever.

Have we become so obsessed with things that we have forgotten the winter holidays are about serving the needs of others? Helping your neighbor? I’m as guilty as the next person. I don’t know my neighbors other than to occasionally say hello. I see them putting up their decorations, bringing home bag after bag stuffed with shopping bargains. Delivery packages flowing in an endless stream. Overflowing trash cans removing excess packaging, clothes and toys making room for the new.

Maybe my view is cynical. Maybe there are places that aren’t like this. I remember growing up, we each received one thing we really wanted. One thing we had begged all year for. A bike, new roller skates, tickets to an amusement park for our next vacation. Everything else we got was something we needed. Clothes, shoes, a new clutch for the car, or a sewing machine. After we opened our gifts, we delivered things to others. My grandmother and I would knit hats and sweaters, crochet blankets, put together packages of socks.

I miss growing up poor. I miss not believing everything was disposable. I miss caring about people I don’t know.

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