Kid Questions, Suicide & railing against a WalMart Christmas

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Our family is experimenting with Paleo eating these days, mostly for medical and health related reasons, but also because we’re just plain sick of the American diet.

So earlier this week, Noelle and I set out to WalMart to hunt and gather what we would need to get by for the week.  I didn’t get to bring a caveman club to the store, although I sort of felt like it.  It’s probably good I don’t go into WalMart armed with a club, I get a little crazy in there.

If you’ve been in any retail store in America during November or December you’ll know that it’s rigged to persuade you to buy holiday M&Ms and vinyl snowman tablecloths.

Noelle was delighted with the whole business, the banners, the elves and the wreathes hanging over every checkout lane light.

She looked up at me from her perch on the front of the cart as asked “Is it Christmas mom?”

Uhhh… yes… no.. sort of?

I hate WalMart. I hate all the busyness and hype of the Holidays. I hate cheap plastic junk so I had no idea how to respond to her simple question without stealing an ounce of her Christmas wonder.

Because no, practically it’s not Christmas yet, it’s the build up to Christmas.  It’s the Christmas season, but not yet Christmas.  I mean, Advent hasn’t officially started yet, right?

Also, because plastic elves and chocolate Santas aren’t really the sort of Christmas I want to give my children. I’m no grinch, in fact I’ve always adored Christmas and measured my year by it, or at least I used to.

Now Christmas is the season where we do, go, and buy.  The month where we stay busy in everything but Christ.

It’s the season of nervous breakdowns, overdoing it, getting into debt and filling your trash can with more paper and boxes than any landfill can reasonable handle.

Christmas is scattered everywhere somehow it so rarely lands in our hearts where it belongs.

It’s all bass-ackwards.

Then we got to the checkout and somehow in the midst of conversation over beeping my purchases the cashier says: “You know it’s the season for suicides, right?

Oh my heart.  Yes, yes I know about the Christmas loneliness and desperation that leads to suicide.  But I don’t really want to get into it with Norma the cashier as my daughter fidgets and our meat gets closer to room temperature.

So I just sigh a “yes” and we load to drive home, all the while wondering how in the world the gift of Christ became so twisted that it’s now “the season for suicide.

It makes me want to huddle at home just the four of us.

To hold the kids until they squirm away from me.

To sit down with them and teach them the beauty of the Christmas story as we play

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with our Little Tikes Nativity set.

When they finally drift off to sleep I want to sip tea or wine and stare at our Christmas tree.  Let my heart dream of a world restored by the Christ whose season has been twisted into cheap plastic crap and utter despair.

I want to hit my knees and pray from my gut for the lonely and hurting for whom Christmas brings thoughts of ending it all.

So Noelle, is this Christmas?  No, this isn’t Christmas, but let me show you what is.

Because, my sweet child, these plastic snowmen and cheap trinkets don’t touch what Christmas truly is.  The miracle of it is almost shamed by the things we have designed to represent it.

I pray God gives me the words to help her understand the Revolution Christmas really is.  Perhaps maybe to celebrate it properly we need to be Revolutionary once again.

To rail against what we are told to do about Christmas and do what we know is right.  To say no to much and yes to the small and precious reflecting, remembering and storytelling.

May we put Christmas in our hearts and our children’s hearts through a season of  real and intentional Christmasing.

If we see the lost and lonely whose minds dwell in the darkest spaces, may we be the ones who seek them out, invite them in and pour prayers and love over their lives.

May we be the ones who rail, RAIL against the thief that comes to steal and destroy the Christmas God’s trying to give us.

Do you feel it too?  This desire to flee the crazy plastic Christmas?  What are you doing to bring it all home?

  • Jamie Kocur

    Oh, yes I am. I LOOOOVE Christmas but get so saddened by the “plasticness” of it all. I love to give gifts but it all gets to be too much.

    I am trying to decide my gift buying strategy this year. I am going low key and easy. Because I’m tired of buying too much and because I don’t have much to spend. I’m even considering doing one of those Christmas gift catalogs where you buy a goat or a mosquito net in someone’s honor. My nephews will think it’s boring, but they have enough stuff.

    • Kate

      PS– I also love the idea you reminded me of, of Mary and Joseph selling the Frankincense and Myrrh (I always envisioned those in boxes in the attic in Nazareth– how 1st world of me!) to finance the run to Egypt!

    • leannepenny

      Ha Ha, Jamie, Those Nephews will get it eventually. I love that idea, I have spent the last few months making a lot of our gifts by making things I’ve wanted to try anyway.

  • Shannon

    Oh yes, this whole post is what I have swirling in my head, even more so since I lost my closest cousin last Christmas to suicide. I long to teach my kids to look beyond the stores and the marketing and really grasp what advent and Christmas truly is. This year we have doing family stuff as our countdown, little fun things, like making cocoa together, and bigger meaningful things like helping neighbors and donating toys.
    I love your blog btw, it resonates so much of what I’ve been thinking/dealing with.

    • leannepenny

      Shannon, I am so so sorry to hear about your cousin, Suicide is so immensely confusing and hard. Keep up those great ideas with your kids, I love it!

  • Annette Skarin

    Just a personal note here. Christmas as we know it is man’s tradition, not something God thought up. So if you want to call it by the right name, call it The Traditional Seller’s & Buyer’s Market Time Of Year. The fact of Jesus birth was heralded by poor shepherds and wealthy wise men who gave gifts in honor of Jesus, which I’m sure helped sustain his family as they had to escape the murderous attempts of Herod. Acts of love are forever remembered. I like all the suggestions above and I’m sure we can all come up with ideas and even spur our children on to want to give rather than receive. I can do that with my granddaughter from NZ, who is coming to visit. Thank you ladies for spurring us on to celebrate the birth of Jesus all year long, by our actions. Thanks for the wonderful thought-provoking post Leanne, as always..

    • Mark Allman (@Vaderalman)

      Great post. For the last few years I have given each of my children money that they have got to figure out how to give it away to a worthy person or cause hoping the joy of it will continue to spur them to do that throughout their lives.

      • leannepenny

        That’s great Mark! You’re one clever Dad.

    • leannepenny

      Absolutely Annette, you’re right and thank you!!

  • Anna

    Love this post. The cashier must have been having an existential moment. My kids are still young and we watch very little tv. I also try to stay out of the stores after Thanksgiving, just for my own sake. So while they do talk about presents, they are a little bit less aware of wants than they might otherwise be.

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