bear with me

I know that you all visit my blog for pretty pictures and descriptions of sweet moments in ordinary life. And, truly, that's why I visit other blogs and why I keep this one. I don't really consider this a place to step onto a soapbox, although I try to live my life with conviction, and I hope some of that transfers here. (I'll admit that sometimes I'm better at holding to my convictions than others -- my husband often points out that to be human is to be hypocritical.)

But this has been weighing so heavily on my mind in the last few days that I really want to talk about it here. I may end up taking this post down later, but I'm feeling the need to mention it for now.

On Friday morning, a 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death as a mob of shoppers broke down the door to the store to get a jump on their holiday shopping. Hundreds of people stepped on another human being's body in order to save some money on gifts that may be forgotten within a few days or months of being given.

That same day, I had to run a quick errand. (I should have known better -- what errand could be "quick" on the day after Thanksgiving?) I was really appalled and disappointed by what I saw that day. People were snatching things up at an astonishing rate. I heard an exchange between two shoppers that went something like this: Shopper A: "What are these?" Shopper B: "I'm not sure, but they're reduced from $10 to only $8!" And they both began to load their carts. I saw people with shopping carts piled higher than their own heads.

I am not trying to be a voice of negativity. I don't think that people should skip decorating or gift buying, and I am definitely not opposed to anyone saving some money.

But I'm wondering. I'm just wondering what this all means. What does it say about joy and festivity and generosity and our economy and humanity? What does it mean when people just buy things because they're there -- just because they can -- or that a man can be stepped on by hundreds of people without their noticing?

I don't know what the answer is. It's more complicated than one -- or many -- mothers saying, "buy less, do more" through the voices of blogs. But we could start there. We could start with our own homes, and on our own websites, and we could buy less. We could commit to handmade gifts, or we could just commit to simplifying one aspect of the holiday. We could pause before buying something and just ask if we really want it, or if the recipient will like and use it. I'm not calling for a "hard times" Christmas. But I really do think -- I really do believe -- that simple can truly be just as wonderful and magical as elaborate, and that a few carefully-chosen gifts can be much better than stacks of packages to open just for the sake of opening them. I don't think that "less is more" is just a meaningless slogan. If we can take it to heart, it really is true.