"Dad, sometimes I just really wish my whole life was a movie." —Scout Carol Murray, bathtub philosopher
Materialism gets a bad rap during the holidays. It's "shallow," is the charge, which presumably comes from people who are spiritually robust and intellectually fired up 24/7.
Hey: Many of us feel empty three hours a day, three days a week, three weeks a year or three years a decade.
Or, as my favorite English professor told us one day in his Capote-esque southern drawl, "Let's face it. A lot of the time, life is dull."
It's during those times that material things come in handy. Whether I wake up on top of the world or lie in bed trying to remember what it looks like up there, it is good to know that today, for sure:
• I have my brown Red Wing work boots to pull on. (The original "Writing Boots.")
• I can drink black coffee (on particularly rough mornings, I can pick out my favorite cup with a picture of my old Springer Spaniel Slim on it).
• I can eat three times. (You have to be pretty morose not to enjoy swallowing food.)
• I can read The New York Times.
• I can read The New York Times in my old leather chair.
• I can drink wine or beer or whiskey or gin.
• I have a motorcycle to ride.
• I can watch Monday Night Football. Even if I don't care about the teams, I can hope they're wearing their "throwback" uniforms, which take me back to sixth grade.
• I have my dad's old watch to wind, and hundreds of other familiar objects—happy photos, warm refrigerator notes, beloved books and a million other keepsakes from happy times—to run my tired eyes over.
No matter how empty a day begins, my bucket is full of these things—these things that represent spiritual ideas, can help me access useful memories, may give my brain sufficient pleasure to get me thinking aloud again.
And the reason we seem so "materialistic" over the holidays is that this is the time we return to stage the original play that we've been adding acts to all these years, willy-nilly.
And material things are often the props we use, often in clumsy desperation, to try to remember the theme.
I believe this is also called “counting your blessings” and this is one of the best times of year to do it!
The retailers, the card stores, the florists, the toy stores – they all want to make us THINK we need more “stuff” to be in the seasonal spirit, but, as your list proves, most of what we REALLY appreciate and wish for doesn’t require a trip to the mall.
Have a wonderful holiday, David! Here’s hoping you and Cristie and Scout have a Christmas filled with love, warmth and laughter.
David Murray says
Thanks, Kristen, good point. A key to intelligent materialism is knowing which things give our lives meaning and which don’t.
People live whole lives thinking the next blouse or car will erase their insecurities and make them feel like a natural man or woman.
Whereas, most of us realize somewhere before we’re 30 that it’s not new things that sustain us, but mostly old things.
(And iPhones, apparently.)
[Happy Holidays to you too, Kristen Ko-Boots.]
Most of us here in what passes for “Western Civilization” are far more abundantly blessed than almost everybody else in the world.
Now, I like my material things just fine, thanks, but comes a point where there’s a storage issue. Really, most of us probably could give away half the stuff we already have without really missing it much.
It’s family and friends that really matter, this time of year or any other. And sailing, right, David?