Every year since my wife and I became parents, we have approached the holidays with a plan:
“This year we’re going to keep things simple,” we promise each other. “This year we’re going to maintain a healthy balance. This year we won’t get sucked in.”
But every year we get sucked in.
And it’s not as if we don’t see it coming. We can feel the wave start to build before Halloween. It starts innocently enough when the first few bags of “fun size” candy bars appear on store shelves. But while we’re preoccupied by that momentary sugary distraction, we’re blindsided by a consumerism tsunami.
Buy, buy, buy. Eat, eat, eat. More frosting. More sprinkles. More decorations. More stuff. More hustle. More bustle. Get out of my way, and hurry up about it!
And in the end, it would seem that the one with the most empty boxes on the curb wins.
So, as in years past, here we stand on the other side, wondering where the past two months have gone and how we managed to get run over by the holiday express. Not that we haven’t had moments of fun and magic and meaningfulness and spiritual fulfillment. It’s just that it’s all been clouded by a materialism hangover.
And as soon as it’s over, it seems that literally overnight the cultural, social and retail messages change.
Out with the old and in with the new! Clean and organize. Simplify. Resolve to be a healthy, new you!
On the day after Christmas, the seasonal aisle at the grocery store had been stripped of the holiday leftovers, which were tossed into a couple of clearance baskets. The shelves had been restocked with plastic bins and organizers, taunting us.
“Pssst … Hey, you overdid it a bit, didn’t you? We’re here to help. Just cram your stuff in these bins and tuck them away in the attic, and we’ll pretend that the whole thing never happened.”
Now that we’ve started a new year, the airwaves and Internet are all atwitter with resolutions concerning fitness and diets and a balanced life, as if none of us had set foot on the holiday crazy train to begin with.
My resolution for 2015 is the same as last year and the year before — to simplify our family life, be more present with our kids and to resist the temptation to buy a ticket for that train.
But come next December, if by some strange twist of events you happen to see me on board, please don’t rub it in; just pass me a few frosted cookies with extra sprinkles.
To reach Jim Cosgrove, send email to email@example.com.