As if the holidays weren’t overwhelming already, here’s the Red Pill Challenge: REMAIN CONSCIOUS. This is no small task either, but if you can keep your wits about you and not let the holiday machine go into auto-pilot, you could make the season so much more joyous – what it’s meant to be anyway, right? <!–more–>- for you and your family.
I’ll spare you my screed on How Christmas Has Been Co-opted by Capitalism — if you’re here, you could probably wax indignant on that particular subject yourself, or at the very least you have a strong inkling that something is not right. But firm as we may be in our assessment of the situation, it’s undeniably difficult to resist the power and momentum of what this season has become in this country. Here are a few ways to REMAIN CONSCIOUS:
Christmas – Unplug It!
And I don’t mean the lights: far from it, I think the lights of Christmas (energy use notwithstanding) are its sweetest, unsullied and symbolic, most enduring joy and beauty. Rather, I’m referring to a workshop put on by a local church this time of year called “Unplug the Christmas Machine.” One of the materials used in the workshop (based on the book of the same name) is a list of all the tasks associated with Christmas, and workshoppers are asked to select all the things they do, and then ask themselves whether these tasks successfully accomplish the positive things they want the season to be associated with: family togetherness, joy, generosity, celebration, gratitude, etc. If they don’t, they need to go. Isn’t this a fantastic idea? Part of the stress of this season also stems from, unfortunately, inequities within families as far as who is doing what. The worksheets are given separately to husbands and wives, and you can imagine that the results of the surveys provide some very valuable insight, at a minimum, and hopefully might lead to more involvement on the part of the less-involved partner, and less stress on the part of the wife – I mean (oops, did I say that out loud?) the other partner. <snort>
This book looks to be a fantastic resource, but short of buying it you could certainly do the very basic exercise above.
Less Material, More Ethereal
My sister passed along this great article from KidsHealth: “Making the Holidays Less Materialistic.” Number 1: Teach Kids to Question Marketing Messages. Yes, yes, YES! This is Red Pill Manna From Heaven: the sooner your kids understand what ads are for, what they are designed to do, and who they are designed to do it for, the sooner those ads will release their hold on your child’s imagination and self-worth. Avoiding them is nearly impossible, but Red Pill Papa does a great little Q&A with his daughter, which this article suggests as well: ask “Do you think that product really looks, tastes, or works the same way as it seems to in the ad?”
This article also suggests: Focus on Family Traditions, Teach Kids to Give of Themselves, Give Gifts With Meaning and Be a Good Holiday Role Model. Regarding the last, please note that if you are standing in line at Wal-Mart at 4:00 a.m. with your child, and you pour your coffee on someone for cutting in line because you believe it will impact your ability to purchase a Wii, you are NOT BEING A GOOD HOLIDAY ROLE MODEL. Nor have you successfully REMAINED CONSCIOUS.
Five Things That Will Not Result in Joy, Gratitude, Family Togetherness or Spiritual Grace
OK, this article from MoneyNing is actually called “Five Things Your Kids Don’t Really Need,” but I thought I’d try to really hit you over the head with it. On the list: a cell phone, a collection of 50 Webkinz, Abercrombie Kids clothing, a Wii and a subscription to Club Penguin. I could add about fifty things to this list, but it’s a good start, and the reasoning behind these can be applied to a multitude of expensive gifts for kids. I was surprised to find that MoneyNing has a lot of great articles about kids and money, oddly applicable despite the fact that my kids don’t have any.
We’ll try to help you, as we work ourselves to navigate through the madness unscathed, but meanwhile, keep telling yourself: REMAIN CONSCIOUS. And we hope you’ll share your stories along the way …
Happy ‘Post-Black-Friday-and-Cyber-Monday’ Tuesday (did that make sense?),
Red Pill Mama