Monday, December 12, 2005

Gripe Session #8546

This one really got under my skin, so if you don't want to hear a bunch of moaning and complaining then pass this one by.

Sunday (yesterday) afternoon was a little cool here in Atlanta so I didn't do any outside work. I helped my gentle bride do the laundry while we both watched TV.

There was a 6-hour mini-series on TV on the SciFi (science fiction) Channel. It was a show called "The Triangle" and it followed four people, financed by a rich shipping magnate, trying to discover the real reason why both ships and planes are constantly being lost in the area called the Bermuda Triangle. The special effects were a little simple but the storyline was interesting.

But EVERY commercial break had an advertisement from both Kay Jewelers and Zales Jewelers, both trying hard to convince me that the best (and only) way to celebrate Christmas, and to properly show my enduring love for my gentle bride, was to buy her a fabulous diamond ring/necklace/earrings for her Christmas gift from me.

I work for a bankrupt company. My paycheck has been reduced by 19% since January 1 2005. My healthcare benefits cost 20% more now than they did at the first of the year. I have a new house that I'm trying to pay for. All my vehicles need maintenance. I'm trying to financially assist my daughter and her newborn child. I'm trying to keep another daughter in college. I'm stretching every penny as far as I can and paying bills is really tough.

And now I'm being inundated with the thought that if I DON'T get my blushing bride a $1,000 three-diamond necklace I'm somehow "not enough" a man, "not enough" a husband. During the six hours of this mini-series there must have been around 25 commercials from each jeweler, composing 15 minutes of advertisement each, and those images are STILL in my head almost 24 hours later.

Are those images STILL in my loving wife's head too? How much was her mind affected by these commercials? Does she have any thoughts that her husband is "required" to purchase a $500 pair of diamons earrings in order to fully show his love towards her? If she merely gets a flannel pair of pajamas will she begin divorce proceedings?

I'm a Christian. My beautiful bride is a Christian. To us this entire holiday season ('holiday' comes from 'holy day'), this Christmas season ('Christmas' comes from 'Christ's mass') is about the birth of the promised Messiah, the one promised to Abraham, the one promised to Moses, the one fortold by Isaiah. Not everyone believes this, but I do, and so does my wife. Our celebration will be that of the birth 2000 years ago of God stepping down from Heaven and coming to live on Earth as a human.

The second aspect of our celebration will be that of the coming together of family and loved ones. It is a time when we take time from our busy schedules, our jobs and commitments, and spend time with each other. We re-connect with those that we love and those that love us.

The third aspect is one of worship and fellowship with those that believe as we do. We gather in church to stand together and re-charge our faiths, our beliefs, and our commitments. We sing, we listen, we pray.

But then there are those bracelets and necklaces. There are those images. Target departments stores tell me to buy those beauthful sweaters for my loved ones. Chevrolet wants me to buy that new sedan. Red Lobster wants me to take my family to the restaurant. And Zales wants me to buy that ring - the ring that I cannot afford, yet that ring that will "properly" show my wife that I love her.

I'M TIRED OF IT! I'M SICK OF IT! Will someone show me how I can tell my wife that I love her without taking out a second mortgage? Will someone show me how I can show my wife that she's the only woman in my life without forgoing a month's worth of bills? Is there any possible way to celebrate Christmas with my lived ones without going bankrupt?

Will my compassionate bride still love me if I can only afford socks and underwear? Will she divorce me if I can only afford some scented candles and a jar of hand lotion? Will my family laugh at me if I only give them a box of mittens and ear muffs? Will I fail as a husband and a father if I simply wrap up a pair of jeans? Am I still a man if all I can give is a kiss and a hug and a prayer for peace?

I feel like a ton of bricks are falling on me. There is no Christ in Christmas. There is no Holy Day in Holiday. There are only store-bought items, with the value of my love being expressed by the monitary value of the item wrapped in the box. I have SO MUCH fear that the frequently unspoken words will be "is that all?" I have SO MUCH fear that the emotions spoken by the eyes of my family will be "but I wanted a ...". I have SO MUCH fear that I will grossly fail as a grandfather, a father, and a husband.

The TV show that I watched was interesting. But the commercials were like ice picks stabbing into my very soul. Today I am still trying to shake it off, but it isn't easy. I'm trying to remember the glory in simply kissing my radiant bride under a sprig of mistletoe. I'm trying to remember the glow of holding my children close to me (even if they're now adults). I'm trying to remember the wonder of the poor child being born in an animal stable 2000 years ago and yet He did so to pave a way for me into an eternity in Paradise. But it's so hard. My faith is weak. My soul is tired. My worship is damaged. My spirit is exhausted.

So I some here to gripe and moan and complain. I come here to vent. In biblical terms I'm gnashing my teeth and rending my clothes.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.