troubled yesterday when I went to the grocery store
after my after-church nap.
all, I'm not much of a shopper. I'm kind of
the anti-girl when it comes to shopping, I've been
told. My husband likes that about me. In
fact, I find that about the only places that I'll
dally are in the hardware store and the office supply
store. But I really REALLY don't like grocery
shopping (which is odd, because I really like to
cook). And since I don't like grocery
shopping, I go as infrequently as possible, which
means I'm stuck there for more time, pushing a heavy
cart and juggling coupons and grocery lists and
in-store sales circulars.
Now, while I'm about this whining, let me also add
this: who in the marketing world decided it would be
a good idea to fill every square foot of aisle and
common area space in stores with "end caps" and
inter-aisle displays?? This drives me nuts! It
makes maneuvering a shopping cart or lumber cart
around the store a real pain. Traffic bottle
necks like it does on a single-lane bridge as
everyone waits his turn to pass through the
three-foot-wide opening in an otherwise 12-foot-wide
aisle! Argh! And don't even get me
started on how difficult it makes shopping for our
friends who must use wheelchairs or scooters to get
headed out to the grocery store yesterday under much
duress. See, I've learned that for the
anti-shopper like me, shopping weekends is a big
no-no. The crowds are bigger, the selection is
smaller, the check-out lines longer, and my patience
shorter. But my husband had offered to cook
dinner, so I braved the Sunday afternoon grocery
store fiasco all for the sake of a tastily-grilled
a cart from the parking lot (since there are usually
more carts in the lot than in the store on the
weekends) and walked into the grocery store... the
GROCERY store... and barely squeaked into the
door with the cart when I ran into the first major
aisle-blocker. Now, the aisle-blocking was bad
enough. But it was the content of the display
that troubled me. It contained Christmas
decorations. Christmas decorations ... at the
grocery store ... in September!
agree that the merging of grocery stores and drug
stores was a good idea. I like being able to
fill my prescription while I'm shopping and to buy
toilet paper and laundry detergent at the same place
I buy apples and bread. It makes for a more
convenient, somewhat less-hassled shopping
experience. But why, too, do I need to find
nativity scenes mixed among Advent wreaths sharing
an aisle-blocker with Frosty and Santa at my local
grocer? And why in September?
Christmas become that commonplace? Have
we become that blasť to want a one-stop
shopping experience for even our matters of faith?
Let's see, I need to pick up milk, bread, toilet
paper, a little reminder of faith, and dish soap.
Great, now Christmas is complete!
We have a
long-standing memory in our family of a really
difficult time. Dad was tasked with the
unwelcome responsibility of taking our beloved dog
Muffin to the vet to be euthanized. She was in
pain, her life expectancy was not good, and there
was nothing that could be done for her. Dad
agonized over this responsibility, and the
long-standing story is that he made a list of things
to do over the weekend that went something like
this: mow the lawn, pick up dry cleaning, kill
the dog, wash car, take Dave to soccer practice.
By making light of a rather difficult situation, Dad
was able to get through his weekend's tasks, marking
off one at a time.
wonder, is this where we are with Christmas?
Has it become just another item on our to-do list?
Is it that we don't want to feel it, to experience
it, so we relegate it to a simple task list?
Is this another case of the marketplace creating the
holiday... one that has become all about the
commercial aspects of buying the perfect gifts and
having the most-festively decorated home with the
grandest of light displays and yard art?
we stop the madness? Well, short of avoiding
the grocery store (I actually like that idea) or
intentionally ramming our carts into the displays
(probably not the best of ideas), what can we do to
claim Christmas back from the marketplace?
One of my
former pastors used to open every month's church
leadership meetings with the singing of a hymn . . .
and it was always a Christmas hymn, no matter the
month. He wanted to reclaim the story of
Christmas as told through our songs, and reclaim it
as a story that needed to be heard year-round.
think we need to rethink Christmas in terms of our
modern conveniences. Christmas was about the
utmost in selflessness. God giving to the
world his only child so that we might be saved from
our wretchedness. Mary carrying, giving birth
(in a barn!) and raising a child that she knew was
destined to greatness, all for the sake of others.
Joseph setting aside his pride and concern,
subjecting himself to public ridicule, and raising
Jesus as his own son even though he knew the child
was not conceived of him, all to support the honor
of his bride-elect.
world of modern conveniences, I fear we have
forgotten what has gone before us. We expect
our life experiences to be easy ones. Our
grocery stores have virtually everything we ever
think we could need. Our churches have
tailor-made services to preach just what we want to
hear. Our schools aim to teach our students
just those things needed to pass a standardized
test. And when things don't go as planned,
when we become inconvenienced, we shout out as to
how we've been wronged, and how it's someone else's
responsibility to fix it. It has become all
about us and what's in it for us.
take back Christmas from the marketplace.
Let's focus on the selflessness of the Season.
Let's try and get over ourselves.
Grace and peace
to you as you journey.
Yours in Christ,