I’d been home from Haiti for about two days, it was 92 degrees when I departed Port-au-Prince and 17 degrees when I landed at my final destination in the States, actually the temperature was the least of the extremes I felt. The next day I was driving for the first time in months and repeatedly heard this jingle on the radio for a jewelry store advertising the fulfillment of the NEED for the perfect Christmas gift, a diamond. Even though it’s been a while since I’ve returned from Haiti every year at this time I try to recall how ridiculous that commercial sounded to my ears. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, the temptation that the perfect gift is just around the corner. THE thing to make someone happy is within our grasp. that we actually NEED stuff, beyond air, water, shelter, food and love.
How does a couple of verses of the right holiday tune transport me into a shopping machine, on a mission to purchase happiness in a store. It’s just so easy to get caught up, or to cave in, to be so tired I just grab anything because I must have something wrapped for that someone I’ll exchange a gift with that neither of us will ever NEED or probably use. Every year I feel the same way and every year I vow to not catch the bug that makes me feel like Scrooge if I don’t spend money on stuff. I left the community of Turgeau at dawn that December morning watching children carry five gallons of water on their heads and within 10 hours was nestled in the land of plenty with hot water endlessly flowing. Years later it pretty much only takes a Bing Crosby tune within ear shot to make me feel melancholy enough to open my wallet for the umpteenth time to buy something, anything to complete the list. My wish is that this year I’ll remember what is truly valuable when I’m a tired and desperate shopper. None of it, none of it is what it’s all about and once again I’m hoping this season to not forget that I have all that I’ll ever need.
I know friends still living in tents in Haiti months after the earthquake. Folks whose lives were devastated by the earthquake and that didn’t have many material possessions to start with. There is true need out there this Christmas and let me not confuse the difference.