Sunday, December 16, 2007

Plastic Elvis - The Joy of Commercial Christmas

Let the fact that this product is actually manufactured and sold attest to the frivolity of the Christmas season in America.

At least in theory, the holiday celebrating the advent of Christ should be a time of reflection. Our hearts should be overflowing with joy for our abundant blessings, and we should be straining our minds to figure out how to share such abundance with those for whom we care.

Most of the time, this theory is put into action, but the reality it creates somewhat distorts the meaning of the season. Our blessings get quantified, and we’re thankful. But we often count them in dollars, not in the amount of determined steps we’ve made on our spiritual journey. Our joy overflows, and we share it. But we do so by racking our brains to find gifts for those who already have everything they could possibly need.

Although it’s good for our country’s economy, this pursuit of newness and the fact that it’s often impossible to find something our friends and family actually need is one of the gravest symptoms of prosperity. When we no longer need anything but feel like we deserve to get something, only a few different scenarios can occur, none of which are particularly edifying.

First, when our wants are the end, our needs are trivialized and we become more susceptible to materialism. A second possibility is that people buy presents out of obligation rather than appreciation. Such a gesture nullifies the sincerity of the gift and often results in a lot of wasted money. (Think of how many things you’ve re-gifted over the years.) The third, and I think only acceptable scenario, is when caring people come up with gift ideas that don’t qualify as necessities but are both creative and sincere enough to express sincere appreciation and justify their cost.

The latter is what happens in my family, and I’m grateful that gift-giving among my relatives is not just a mindless swapping of cash flow.

Sadly though, people desperate to placate their relatives will fall for any sort of gadget. The plastic, animatronic Elvis is the epitome of America’s Christmas waste. Another product high on my hit list is the digital photo frame. The standard-size frames were bad enough, but now they have digital frames squeezed onto Christmas ornaments and key chains. (The one pictured here costs $40 on clearance at Target!)

This Christmas, let us begin and end with the joy that comes with the thought that Christ is alive. No matter how real his hair looks or how he moves and sings, robotic Elvis ($150 on sale at Macy's. Regular price: $400) is not.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Well put, man. Thank you.