"Don't keep up with the Joneses; make sure the Joneses are okay." -- Jim Wallis
That resonates for me.
It's tough. Anne came up from the projects, raised in a world where there never was enough, where celebrations of holidays like Christmas were driven by handouts from charitable organizations. My parents weren't poor in material ways but spiritually impoverished. Both of us came out of those worlds needy.
Buying presents for your kids can become a way of fulfilling the needs that went unanswered when we were kids. We always want them to have what we didn't.
But a lot of that "what we didn't" can be traced back, not to the material lack, but to the spiritual lack. And you can see that the hunger for that spiritual fulfillment is never assuaged by the new pair of jeans or game for the Nintendo DSi.
Because it's never enough. A day, or two days after that new pair of jeans has been worn, a clamor is raised for another trip to the mall. And the tell is that often, the bag containing the newly-purchased items gets thrown on the dining room table and sits for two days before the new items are even retrieved and used.
It's the act of purchasing, the recognition of the ability to buy, that has become important.
A couple of nights ago, we were sitting in the living room watching coverage of the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake on CNN, and Laura said "I'm going to pack up some of my toys and send them to the kids there."
That's the legacy we really want to give our kids. And however she came by it, we didn't buy it at the mall.