Gift Ghosts of Christmas Past


Christmas past spills from my closets, the flotsam and jetsam of my children’s childhoods. 

This year, my eldest daughter crossed to adulthood, by birthday and life-way a grown-up.  My middle girl decamped for Portugal, an exchange-student refugee, fleeing the sentence of a senior year spent at a suburban American high school.  My son is a teen-ager, gone from debatably taller to someone I clearly look up to.  Both his eyeballs and his heart are on a new level. 

Yet, I cling to the stuff of their babyhood.  I still have toddler tub toys in my upstairs bathroom.  The family room cabinet is crammed with VCR tapes, Disney Movies, Little Rascals and the Wizard of Oz.  The Brio train sets, the Playmobile figures, the Lincoln Logs clod the cupboard beneath the stair.  The boxes entomb answers to the relentless question of Christmases gone bye and buy, “I need gift ideas your kids.”  

How pure I wanted to be when my children were young.  How diligently I tried to enforce a buying ethic, no Barbie, no logos, limit the Disney. But, you can’t beat back the demon monoculture without a sense of humor.  My daughters’ favorite nightgown was long and pink and had the Little Mermaid on it. So much of my sleepy little girls is tucked away in that fabric, I have to love it. 

By the mid 1990s, I lost the Barbie war. Barbie’s measurements didn’t match-up to my ideas of feminine realism, but I gave Grandma the go ahead to get my daughter a newly apportioned more realistic fashion doll, “Free to Be Me.”  Later, when I could no longer hold back the flood of Mattel, the “Free to Be Me” doll kept a special place in the play hierarchy as “The Fat Barbie.” 

To wax fanatic, is to find your self a foolish hypocrite.  I am a sinner and weak.  I admit that on some Christmases I’d spend a bundle in the last few hours, afraid my children wouldn’t feel loved unless they got more stuff.  Somehow they survived the onslaught of consumerism and are emerging from the effluence of their affluent upbringing.  God love them.  And God grant me the strength to clear out those closets.

Looking for the strength to separate consumption from celebration this Holiday Season?  Come to a special screening of “What Would Jesus Buy?”  Friday and Saturday morning 10:30 a.m. Riverview Theater, Minneapolis.  Or  hear Reverend Billy, of the Church of Life After Shopping, preach:

Shopocalypse Revival Party 
Saturday, November 28. 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:00) 
House of Balls, 212 3rd Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 
Suggested Donation: $10 individual; $15 couples. 

St. Paul Revival Meeting 
Sunday, November 29. 2:00 p.m. 

John B. Davis Auditorium, Macalester College 
1600 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 
No admission charge; offering will be taken. 

For More Information: 612-332-3992