“‘Shop until you drop,’or retail therapy, is a popular way of responding to a case of the blues. This is a kind of ‘self Christmas,’ which means giving myself lots of presents in order to affirm that when the chips are down ‘I love me.’ This self-indulgence doesn’t work and only produces an emptier bank account and an even emptier feeling inside.” (Forward Day By Day)
I have done more than my share of “retail therapy” in attempts to fill up the oft-times seemingly bottomless hole inside me.
And as the dollars and the years have rolled by, I have indeed learned that “Christmas-ing myself” with material things does very little to chase away the blues.
And now, along comes the real Christmas season with all its contradictory messages and demands. In the spiritual world Christmas has to do with a baby born in Bethlehem; in the secular world, the Christmas season is retail therapy to the max. Over the years and decades, December has become the mother of all shopping months — and the bobbling media heads yammer away at us that the whole economy of the United States depends on how much money we spend at the malls.
So rather than retail therapy (or retail madness) perhaps what we all need to concentrate on is a little “Christmas therapy.”
Of course, to each individual that could mean something different. To me, it’s a path to experiencing the spirituality of joy and simplicity of the season.
Just think of all the joyful, peaceful ways there are to “Christmas ourselves”!
For instance, let’s look at the “Peace On Earth” mantra that goes along with the season. Imagine folks actually taking it seriously. I’m not talking about Nobel Peace Prize kind of stuff. I’m thinking of those little random acts of goodness that we can do for ourselves and others that can have a domino effect amongst our friends, families and communities.
Instead of retail therapy, how about hot chocolate in front of the fireplace therapy? Or allowing oneself the luxury of a nap on a cold winter day (curling up with cats or dogs optional)?
There is reading a good book therapy or reading the Good Book or reading a story aloud to the kids instead of turning on a loud TV.
The list is endless: a weekday service at church; a candle and Christmas carols; baking chocolate chip cookies; creating handmade greeting cards; visiting a neighbor who doesn’t get out much (bringing gift of apple pie optional); pulling the old guitar out and strumming a few tunes; taking the dog for a walk instead of just letting her out in the backyard.
And instead of driving past the houses decorated with delightful lights and ornaments, bundle up and WALK past them. Take the time to feel the chilly air, to really SEE the colors, to smell the smoke coming from chimneys. And don’t forget to look up.
Perhaps if we excel at simple, quiet Christmas therapy rather than nerve-jangling frantic retail therapy, we will open ourselves up to the greatest gifts of the season: faith; love; and the peace that surpasses all understanding.
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