’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.