It's nice to know there are still a few pockets and hollers where Americans gather to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas, not the monster of consumerism run amok that our gift-giving holiday season has become.
The Zanesville (Ohio) Times Recorder recounts that 200 people gathered in the town of White Cottage this past weekend, to celebrate Christmas as history says it should be celebrated:
"I've decided it's time to get back to the real reason we celebrate Christmas," the Recorder quotes one Christina Fowler as saying. "As Christians, we should be concerned with celebrating the birth of Jesus not how much crap we can stuff under a tree. I've tried to explain to the boys that Santa is leaving just one gift this year. It's been hard, but I'm sticking with it."
Religious sentiments aside, I find Fowler's attitude quite astute. Would that she were in the majority, rather than in the distinct minority.
We all know the American economy is built on the backs of consumers, consumerism, and the seemingly unquenched thirst we have for item after item after item. As Christmas sales tallies start even well before Thanksgiving, the media remind us over and over that most retailers make more money in the six weeks preceding Christmas than in the entire rest of the year. Christmas sales literally make or break the U.S. economy and without consumers' hefty demand for things, we wouldn't have an economy.
We have two choices: we can continue to rely on an economy that is bound to destroy our habitat and our way of life over time. Or we can come up with a new way to build a stronger, more environmentally friendly economic base. Personally I cannot fathom precisely how the second alternative might work.
We've already made the conversion to a knowledge -- and information-based economy. But that hasn't quenched our thirst for an excess of expensive and environmentally destructive consumer goods. We're working on bringing the country up to speed on green energy. And although I may disagree with many of President Barack Obama's policies, his dedication to funding green energy research and production is praise-worthy.
Many of us who would like to travel a different path feel helpless fighting off over-charged consumerism. But there are simple things we can do to fight back.
First, we can teach our kids that while a new toy is fun for a few minutes or a few hours, the thrill of consumerism is temporary. That temporary lift is certainly not worth the environmental havoc it wreaks. We can try, as the people in White Cottage, Ohio, are doing, to find meaning in life through spiritual fulfillment, by spending more time with friends and loved ones and less time hungering for objects. And we can remind ourselves that if we don't do something and quickly, there will not be a habitable planet for future generations to enjoy.