“If we are forever yearning for ‘more,’ we are forever discounting what is offered.” Julia Cameron
“You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.” – Stewart Emery
I remember the morning that the Christmas “train” took my son on the journey from innate graciousness to maniacal greed to absolute dissolution. He was three.
Since becoming parents, neither my husband or I got much sleep on Christmas Eve with the anticipation of our son’s joy. That first Christmas, he was only a few months old… so it wasn’t exactly what we’d been waiting for.
His second Christmas was much more satisfying–though fleeting. After unwrapping a handful of presents, our one year old simply refused to look at any more. He shook his head “No,” to each pushy request from his parents, finally exiting the room to make his point– teaching us about “too much.”
By his third Christmas, however, our two-year old had fully joined the culture of gluttony. He never left the room once until everything was opened, upon which he said very matter of factly, “I want Santa bring more.”
The turning point, from graciousness to greed, came at our son’s fourth Christmas. Like a train wreck, we watched it unfold right before our eyes. The morning started out sweet enough, as he played with each “present.” But soon his pace began to quicken, and he began ripping apart paper without even looking to see from whom the gift came; and then he began opening one after another without taking notice of what was he received.
Ironically, we had once begged our son to keep opening gifts, while now, we scolded him to slow down. But he couldn’t stop himself. He just kept plowing through the present(s) until there was nothing left– at which point he collapsed into tears, completely unsatisfied with his bounty of gifts.
“We” had created a monster!
After that year, we encouraged the relatives to send less– and since that was mostly a hopeless cause– we bought much less ourselves, even re-gifting things from year to year. That same Santa Moose showed up each Christmas along with holiday themed books, films and toys.
By 5 years old, our son had so many things that there was no need to buy more once our second son came along. So we kept re-gifting–wrapping up forgotten treasures each Christmas. Eventually, what was found under the tree was much more of what was needed~ new bed pillows, a ski coat, a sled to replace the broken one. The few toys that our sons did receive were treasured more and more. Last year’s gift of digital cameras were played with for days on end.
Each year, we reigned Christmas in just a bit more–even cutting back on feasting and celebrations to create the space needed for the feelings we treasured most~ magic and grace and generosity.
But it’s still a slippery slope–for me. I begin each holiday gently just as my son began that Christmas morning that transformed him from gracious to greedy. As the weeks progress, I begin to need “more” and anxiety grips my stomach with both desire and fear. Will I have enough? How will I pay for it? Am I missing out on the experience of abundance by not buying?
Soon the addictive aspect of consumerism kicks in and I reach the maniacal turning point of just wanting to shop and spend, spend, spend.
That’s where I found myself last night— coming out of the beverage store with a costly bottle of Baileys Irish Creme. I don’t even drink it anymore, but it was the holidays, and I used to love it, and everyone was buying fancy liquors, and it was the season, and I wanted to be fully part of it–even though I had just bemoaned that that I had just spent most of my budget for the month on fancy foods for the holidays.
I joined the throngs of shoppers at department stores in last minute shopping and filled my cart with things I wanted to give and to get. I was rapturous with desire, craving the feeling of plenty!
And then I remembered my son. I recalled how his rapture turned to dissillusionment –and I felt my own within it. I restrained myself from a big covetous purchase and I returned another.
I began to soften.
I let the need for “more” go… and today, I sink into a slow pace with Christmas carols and cookies and writing about the gift of “presence” that needs—plenty of empty space— to be received.
“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”~Wayne Dyer