Sunday, November 18, 2007

Say no to X-mas materialism

It's that time of year again. The nightly news trumpets how much money stores are making (or not making) with holiday shopping as if we are supposed to cheer the capitalists on. And then there is the inevitable story on the rush to buy the latest toy or gadget (do they even have one this year?) with images of people stampeding some stupid e-waste or toxic plastic toy store. The materialism and waste just disgusts me.

The last 2 years I have said no to Christmas materialism and have done my holiday shopping at The Most Important Catalog in the World, the Heifer International catalog.

I found this catalog when one day it just came in the mail. Whenever you give to any kind of progressive cause you get put on a sucker list and you get all kinds of requests for money. But this one I was interested in because I had heard after the 9-11 attacks that some poor cattle herders from the Masai tribe or something like that had wanted to give us Americans some cattle to help us through our crisis. That just touched me greatly that people with so little would want to give us materialistic Americans something that we have more than enough of. The average American probably has at least 12 big macs just sitting there around their waists filing out those size 42 pants.

It reminded me of one of the Christmas stories my mom used to read to us about two little poor children who bring a gift to the altar of a church with special church bells that will ring only when the most valuable gift is given, and despite all the gold and jewels that others have brought, it's their modest gift that causes the bells to ring because they gave the only thing of value that they had.

And that's kind of like the story of Snippen my mom used to tell about the elf who can walk under tables and hates living with the poor family he lives with and envies the other elves that live on Hofstetter's farm with the bowls of cream left every night when he gets nothing. And then he overhears the girl child of the family praying on her mother's grave and Snippen has a change of heart about how lucky he really is because he's helping that little girl take care of her family.

Anyway, after growing up with stories like this it is kind of astonishing that my Republican capitalist family would be surprised to have raised someone like me who grates at excessive American consumption, and chafes at the idea that we're all cheering on these huge corporations making tons of money by convincing us we need more crap, but it really is all their fault.

It brought tears to my mother's eyes the first year I gave llamas, bees and goats in her honor to poor people in a poor country somewhere. I intend to do it again for the third year in a row. And maybe, despite not making more money this year than last year, I'll shell out even more and give a little to the Algalita Research Vessel so they can spread the word about plastic trash in the environment.

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