Hell, The Generosity of Spirit (and the mall)
As I sat, sipped coffee and read my newspapers this morning I was still feeling the ill effects of last night’s foray into consumerist hell: The Mall. Let me be very precise about my feelings concerning enclosed malls: I hate them! I hate them even more at Christmas time. They are Hell.
The other things I hate are needles in my eye, hot coffee spilt on my lap, the sound of a child in pain, Sophia Coppola’s tragic demolition of Godfather III and paper cuts on my lips..
Now, I’m not one to drink heavily. But as I stood in numerous lines at this shiny, bright soul sucking place last night, the only thing I could think of is how I might medicate myself with lots of wine. But of course there is no wine at the Mall. That’s probably good as I’m sure if there were I’d have done something very irresponsible.
With this heavy dose of lingering despair for our culture hanging over me this morning I came across the words of the Conscience of Sonoma’s Food Community: Michele Anna Jordan’s weekly column in the Press Democrat Newspaper wherein today she completely captured the feelings I harbor for a season gone bad:
"As I write, I am listening to a program on NPR that is addressing the question of whether money might not be the best gift. It makes it all feel like an obligation, like a bill coming due, like friends and family are surrounding me with their hands out, with mine in turn extended to them, palm up.
"I cannot mark the exact moment when shopping eclipsed the magic of the season but it was right about the time I noticed the 12 days of Christmas referred to as a countdown of shopping days rather than an observance that begins on Christmas Day and concludes on January 6."
As always, Michele seems to somehow say what I am thinking.
Michele’s attack on this nasty bit of seasonal consumerist frenzy is to make this a time of year when she gathers around her those she loves and adores, cooks for them, shares wine and treats and celebrates the generosity of spirit that inhabits us all and makes us far far better people than the bright, lively and beautiful folks that smile out at us from the pages of catalogs…catalogs that, thankfully, have stopped arriving at our house by now because UPS and FED EX can’t guarantee that they can deliver our guilt induced packages to others.
I’m not really a religious person. I have my own spiritual notions, some of which match up with the point of Christmas, some that don’t. I like this season though and I want it to be a celebration of the Generosity of Spirit, rather than a celebration of the spirit of giving…and giving and giving and buying and standing in line and buying and buying.
I’ve figured out that the best way to celebrate the generosity of spirit that inhabits us all is to do exactly what Michele suggests: gather around me this time of year those who I love, rather than those who just want to pay for those iTunes gift cards. This is a good time to pour lots of wine for your friends and family who have lived through the past year with you. It’s a good time to share your table with them.
It’s a good time to stay as far away from the Mall as possible.