Chicago mom fights holiday commercialism

My favorite part of the season is watching all of the old cartoons, especially my two favorites: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” I appreciate how the narration of these good old-fashioned cartoons instills wisdom beyond our children’s imagination, planting seeds of kindness, thoughtfulness and gratefulness.

Each year I get a little more nostalgic wanting to preserve the meaning of Christmas for my children and while I was reading A Charlie Brown Christmas to my son this evening, I thought to myself, I can totally relate.

As Charlie Brown opens up to his BFF Linus about not being happy, Linus encourages him to forget his problems like the rest of the kids are doing. Charlie Brown then goes to Lucy who tells him:

“Look, Charlie Brown, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big Eastern Syndicate, you know.”

When did Christmas become some big commercial racket that somehow big retailers have us thinking we need this and that and our kids think they need this and that? It becomes an ungrateful cycle, don’t you think?

I am so grateful I live in a condo. I have asked politely that people not to give the kids toys because we don’t have room. But I know it is my job as a parent to show my kids the meaning of Christmas and it is my responsibility to show them how to be gracious and humble for what we have and what we receive in life. In fact, I’ll keep Netflix on just to avoid those pesky marketing commercials.

But Linus, good ole Linus, does a beautiful job in explaining to Charlie Brown the true meaning of Christmas when he cites Luke Chapter 2 that even non-believers can feel their hearts getting warm and fuzzy.

Then, as I watched the Grinch’s heart grow three times its size on Saturday night with my kids, I listened closely to my favorite line (a line I used in Christmas cards when my daughter was 2):

“He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”

The moral of the story was Whoville didn’t need things to still celebrate Christmas. When the Grinch heard those cheerful songs, he realized the holiday was about being together, sharing, loving, spreading kindness and being grateful for what we have in our lives.

Our lives do not become full because we get what we want, but we must learn to give more than what we have. That is how commercialism robs us of living a full and rich life. It’s a lesson the Grinch had to learn all by himself.

Yes, I buy presents for my kids, but we don’t buy them everything they want — there are lessons to be learned in not getting everything we want in life. Tomorrow we will start reading the story of baby Jesus daily, working our way up to Christmas day. And my kids will have fun opening the presents, eating cookies, watching movies and hanging out our jammies, because hanging out and tuning out is what we will be doing on Christmas Day.

But Linus is right! “I won’t let all of this commercialism spoil my Christmas” because Christmas means so much more!

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