We just started getting the weekend newspaper again after a several-year hiatus. We weren't reading it enough and the Sunday ads just taunted me with cheap clothes and electronics that no one needed, but oh, how I wanted. What tipped us over the edge was the girl going door to door selling subscriptions "to help her earn a college scholarship". Yes, it was about as believable as you can imagine, but seeing as a six month weekend subscription was somewhere in the ballpark of $13 we went with it.
Our timing could have been better. The first Sunday paper was so overloaded with holiday ads that Charlotte couldn't have picked it up if she wanted to. Which she didn't.
As soon as they saw the paper the kids started clamouring for the funny pages, because as Sunday paper newbies they had no idea what waited for them inside.
I rolled open the giant paper and began sorting through for the funnies. As I did, I was inadvertently handing my kids ads labeled "Holiday Toy Lists", "Hottest Toys of the Season" and "Totally Toys". By the time the funnies were finally produced I found that my children were huddled over the Target toy ad, oohing and ahhing over the lastest and greatest.
I didn't pay too much attention to it until I realized that the kids were carrying around the ads like prized books. If a page got crumpled or torn, the kids turned on each other like reality show contestants, trying to find the culprit.
They fought over the booklet, then finally settled down to start looking at the ads together, folding down pages for the items they wanted. It's a kid tradition to peruse catalogs and ad inserts for the most wished toys each Christmas. Entire holiday movies are based on the concept.
I watched my kids fight, then make up, then listened to a chorus of "I want that's" and my heart began to sink. They all found items that they truly wanted, the things they have been wanting for a long time, princess dolls for Charlotte, Legos for Tyler and American Girl dolls and accessories for Lily. These are items that they had been talking about for weeks and months, that they had been studying online and knew the ins and outs of.
But they also found things that they never even knew they wanted. Bigger toys that were more sparkly or more pink or had more pieces. Before the wonderful world of Sunday newspapers my kids knew exactly what they wanted. After the glossy ad enlightenment they suddenly thought they needed so much more.
That doesn’t really ever change, does it?
We always have desires. Things that we work towards our whole lives but often when we are presented with something bigger, fancier and more sparkly, our old desires seem too small, so we upgrade. Sometimes we get our desires and then we want more, barely taking time to enjoy the joy and blessings we do have.
It's so easy for this time of year to become all about the "getting". I'm guilty of it. Heck, I am writing this post while texting my sister about our planned Black Friday shopping exploits, where we shop cheap deals for ourselves, not so much our loved ones, so yeah. Guilty.
Our proclivity towards more more more certainly can rear its head this time of year. I am trying to find the balance between desire and outright coveting. I want this holiday season to be full of peace and joy and family and service while enjoying the gifts we do have.
I am so excited about this upcoming holiday season and the plans we have for Christmas Day service to the homeless. We have nearly 40 people signed up to go to Cesar Chavez park on Christmas day. Forty. People. Unbelievable!
Come back tomorrow, because I'll be laying out the whole plan. If you are local to the Scaramento area, I urge you to consider participating with us.