’Tis the season for unreasonable expectations.
Over the next several weeks, televisions, magazines, and websites will offer us countless images of the “perfect” holiday season.
Beaming faces, sparkling eyes, glistening gifts, and bountiful tables of food will be shown on media platforms of every sort. Many of these images will stand side-by-side with corporate logos and retail stores.
The turkey is from Butterball. The necklace from Kay’s. The soda is Coca-Cola. The toys were purchased at Walmart. The coffee is Folger’s. The slippers are from Kohl’s. And the new vehicle with the red bow in the driveway is a Lexus.
It would seem, from the image on the screen, these items are essential for a perfect holiday. Because obviously, the smiles are bigger, the family is happier, and the lights shine brighter—if, and only if, we buy the consumer product to make it so.
This is not a new strategy from marketers. All year long they communicate the subtle (and not-so-subtle) message that our lives will be better, happier, and more fulfilled if we buy whatever they’re selling.
But their message reaches a fever-pitch during the Holiday Season and nobody is immune to their meticulously crafted persuasion.
I assume one reason for the effectiveness of these ad campaigns is because we all desire a joyful and merry holiday season. We cherish our time with family and want it to be picture perfect. We love our kids and want them to be happy. And we all enjoy times of celebration and desire them to be memorable.
But let’s remember one important truth today: You don’t need any of those things for a perfect holiday season.
You don’t need a new car in the driveway for a perfect holiday season. You don’t need new jewelry for a perfect holiday season. You don’t need slippers. You don’t need a perfectly-decorated 10-foot tree. And you certainly don’t need a large pile of glistening presents underneath it.
You don’t need any of those things for a perfect holiday season.
The holiday season is about family, and thankfulness, and faith and love and peace. It’s about reflecting on the year that was, and looking forward to the year that can be. It’s about counting blessings. It’s about slowing down long enough to appreciate the things in life that matter most.
And too often, the consumeristic promises and fake-photos keep us from enjoying the season. Instead of slowing down, we speed up. We rush from store-to-store (or website-to-website) filling our shopping carts with all the things we think we need. We fill our schedules with increased commitments and responsibilities. We max out our credit cards.
We get so frustrated and weary chasing the perfect holiday season that we never take time to enjoy the one right in front of us.
But Melody Beattie once said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
Once we slow down enough to notice our blessings, we begin to see that we already have everything we need for a perfect holiday season.
And maybe that is what worries marketers the most… that we would begin to recognize all the things we don’t need for a perfect holiday season.
This year to make it special for us we kept it to the few decoration. A light and brightening my living room and made by a friend in my neighborhood. Our display stands all year long by our bay window. New Years I will add some more bright lights. Only one or two gifts. From my son a mug for each of us. For him I picked a fragrant candle and lipsticks for winter. A day from New Years I have so much to decluttering from our summer stay in a lodge in Ireland. We take the time to travel as much as we can – together – when our son comes with us. Less fuss when airport don’t lose your luggage’s and more delays. Bringing with you cluttered suitcases and items takes away the joy since you will be staying in line and pay the weight for what you brought that you’ll not use. Keeping the holidays to the simple has taught me that you don’t need many things to celebrate time , joy , and a wealth memories for your kids to learn from this year.
Loretta Pietila says
Good article. Thank you for the reminder of the best holidays..surrounding family, friends, kindness, laughter. The best memories are sitting around a table sharing a meal with your loved ones. Peace.
Great article. Slippers are very important though for comfort at home.
Socks and slippers
Yea, I do need slippers – one of my dogs likes to chew mine up regularly. If I find a really good deal, I’ll buy 2 pair at a time!
It’s even more ridiculous this season. Let’s focus on what we already have not more things. I have to mute the advertisements. Not to mention all the changes in the climate and its affects on people and our wildlife.
Peggy Behnke says
I have always zoned out during commercials….thinking about what I need to do the next day, etc….
Mary Pugh says
I was watching a seasonal rom-com the other day when I noticed the characters were referring to the Christmas tree as a “gift tree*. When did that happen? It’s a small but significant change and it says, ” you can’t have one of these trees without the gifts to go with it! Buy more stuff! “
They probably didn’t want to say “Christmas tree” because it uses the word “Christ.” Another example of how secular society is becoming.
Cathy Pasek says
That is terrible!!
You blew it! You listed the things that Christmas really is…..WRONG!!!! Christmas might result in some of these things but, as a former “Pastor”(???)! you should know that CHRISTmas is about CHRIST!!! Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, came to earth to redeem and die for our sins. Good thing you are not presching this a Christian pulpit! SO disappointed in this post.
I interpreted this as … if everyone would just take 10 minutes to sit quietly and thank our Lord for everything he’s entrusted to us, they would see how truly blessed they are already. I think this message is solid.
Sorry, Gail. Very narrow-minded of you. Not everyone is a Christian. The “season” – meaning the end of another year – can have significant meaning for non-Christians. Yours is not the only “holy day.”
Kelly Davis says
Thank you for this comment!❤️❤️❤️
Reannah Jones says
When you said, “And the new vehicle with the red bow in the driveway is a Lexus,” I had to do a double take because last year on December 19th me and my husband adopted a research lab beagle named Alexus. It was just Lexus, but I changed it to make it sound more like a real name. I had to think about the fact that the pet clinic decided to name the dogs after cars to try and increase their value. It seemed a bit off. Why would we want to name living things after objects? Right? Anyway, we had absolutely no idea that she was a research lab dog until we discovered the tattooed number in her ear after we adopted her. Big wake up call as to the fact that beagles are being tested on for our cosmetic + pharmaceutical products every single year. What is the best gift someone can get? An opportunity to recognize how consumerism affects animals. For me, it felt like a stab in the back to not have been told up front, “hey, this is a big responsibility you’re going to take on. There are no rehabilitation programs for research lab dogs. Oh, you’ve never owned a dog before? Want to take on a huge project then?” Well since then, reflecting on everything that has happened since then, I realize just how much of a gift she is. She is a huge eye opener to what is important in life; supporting causes that do the right thing. I may have to rehabilitate a dog that I have no idea how to rehabilitate, but I’m happy to do it and I realize that more and more. There’s no Christmas present that has given me the awareness that this one has. Rescuing her life was part of our calling. I wouldn’t change a thing even though I was robbed of knowledge. She absolutely deserves to be given a chance. More than one, if you ask me. There is no toy, vehicle, or product that can offer as much value as this dog has offered me. Consumerism no longer has the grasp it once had on me. Spending time with my dog, helping her understand better how to be a dog (not an object) has been a daunting task and a rewarding task. I get to see her growth. I get to be a part of it. I sometimes break down and ask myself what the hell I got myself into. I’d rather be aware of what products do to animals than to be unaware. I’m so thankful that I wear zero makeup, now. I’m even beginning to recognize what is in my food (i.e. antibiotics, rBST, other hormones, pesticides, etc.). I try to keep my products as simple as possible and I do a lot more research than I used to. Without overexposure to tv commercials and magazine commercials, I’ve come to think for myself a lot more. Alexus just had her very first Thanksgiving and I cannot tell you how much that warmed my heart. It’s the little things that mean the most in life. Had we not rescued Alexus, our lives wouldn’t have benefited so much. She is deserving of so much love and attention and recovery. So are many other animals. What you said made a lot of sense to me. There are so many marketing tactics that try to fool us into believing that happiness is a surface thing. Happiness goes deep. God bless.
Elizabeth Kern says
Wow! There is an organization called Beagle Freedom Project, it may be a Facebook page, they try to rescue, heal and place former research beagles from labs. I was heartbroken to learn that beagles are the preferred breed to experiment on, as they are docile by nature. I’ve always and only had rescue animals, we had beagles as a kid because my dad hunted. I think about getting a rescue from the research labs, beagles I’ve known have an incredible sense of smell and need lots of exercise. So happy you saved one❤️
very inspiring! its not only for this holiday season, but for everyday, we only need the essentials and a heart of gratitude to be happy,
I love Beagles and Dr Fauci uses them fir inhumane, cruel experimentation! I can’t stand to look at him much less trust my healrh to him!!! Evil is as evil does!!!
Cathy Pasek says
That’s why I buy my products from Gum to laundry soap. Everything in-between. No harsh toxins, chemicals. They never test anything on a human or animal. God Bless this Company!!