So it's currently Easter Sunday evening; I'm sitting in my bed slowly eating a handful of Easter jellybeans as I type, a floppy pair of bunny ears lying next to me. And suddenly I pause from within my sugar-induced trance and realize - since when did Jesus dying have to do with the Easter bunny and candy?
And yeah, okay there is an entire story behind it, but since when did it take over? People thinking of the Easter bunny over Jesus, or Santa over Jesus at Christmas, or the general overtaking of Thanksgiving by Black Friday? Sales for every single holiday (like Washington would have wanted a sale on Ford cars for his birthday...)? But that's just a broad, holiday-focused list of examples. How about the fact that people are inherently judged on the clothes that they wear, specifically the brands? Even more so with cars, to the point that broad, sweeping assumptions are granted to people based on the brands they portray?
I would attribute this effect to capitalism -- and I think it is definitely safe to do so -- but also to our culture of materialism, a factor that is related yet not the same as capitalism. One can be capitalist yet less materialistic (philanthropy being an example) and one can be materialistic yet not capitalist (hoarding things not meant to eventually be sold for money). And it is more the materialism within our society that drives us to find a physical gain for spiritual holidays and to decide that a person's worth is reflected in who made their clothes.
Okay, party pooper, and...? It's a hard lesson to teach your kids, especially when focus on material value such as brand or expense is a large part of their daily lives. Yet ultimately the value is immensely worth the long, hard process of helping your kids see nonmaterial value in life -- understanding that clothes are just as fine if they aren't Nike brand, and Christmas is still magical if they do not receive that xBox that they were wanting.
And don't misread me -- I love my material objects as much as the next person. I absolutely love my car, I probably couldn't live without my phone and I am definitely one of the people to stay up all night shopping on Black Friday. I totally recognize that living in our world today would be almost impossible without some level of materalistic appreciation.
But please, guys, there is a meaning to everything beyond the monetary value of it (and I don't mean one that is necessarily religious). Look deeper into people than what they're wearing. Harbor peace of the holidays in your heart. And as you unwrap your presents and devour the candy that you found in your hidden eggs, remember that life is more than a price tag. You cannot improve your life by buying more expensive things... so appreciate what you have right now, no matter how much that phrase makes you think of the letter posters they sell at Hobby Lobby. It is worth it.