According to the dictionary, an icon is an object of uncritical devotion and an idol is a false god. So, what does that have to do with living simply? Well, especially at this time of year it seems to me that we humans are prone to substitute symbols for substance. Instead of giving thanks to our Creator at Thanksgiving many worship instead at the altar of consumerism, with the holiday morphing into the shopping sales of Black Friday and even Cyber Monday.
And the celebration of Christmas as the coming of Christ has been blatantly commercialized to the point that many altogether forget the reason for the season. Yet, instead of seeking to fill voids in our lives by shopping for more stuff we can choose to spend our limited time here with loved ones and helping others less fortunate than us. It may sound corny but it warms the cockles of my heart that one can still hear messages of good news via carol medleys at Christmas.
I suppose this post is a sequel of sorts to the last one about logos as signs in our lives. As Americans we are especially challenged to put materialism in its place during this festive time of year. The messages we are bombarded with continually seek to seduce us into trading time for trinkets we hope will convey our affections. And the mistake many of us make is thinking that presents can replace being present with those we claim to love.
As an antidote to the barrage of business, Linda and I used Thanksgiving weekend as an excuse to escape to the environs of Peterborough, New Hampshire (see sign above). The inviting town was the inspiration for Thornton Wilder’s famous play Our Town and it more than lived up to its billing as “a good town to live in.” It is located in what is called the “Currier and Ives” corner of the state and the change of scenery was a welcome respite for us.
So, allow me to suggest some alternatives to the hectic holiday season. Consider slowing down the frenetic pace of the partying, limit your time spent shopping and spend it instead celebrating such simple pleasures as sending cards, visiting friends, and singing carols. If activities like decorating for the holidays add stress to your agenda, consider simplifying the process or perhaps dispensing with it altogether. Here is to celebrating the season simply!