Friday, December 3, 2010

Want VS Need

‘Tis the season where people are frantically trying to buy things for other people because…?

Oh, that IS the question.

Does the purchasing of stuff promoted by retailers as “the best price of the year” or “the trendiest items or style” make us feel we are accomplishing the goal of Christmas?

Hey, what a minute! This buying trend is what keeps the economy going. This time of year is when the small business owner can balance their books for the coming months. This is the time of year when mass inventories can be reduced.

What? Don’t have the cash because you’ve been laid off or your house is in foreclosure or you just don’t have enough to cover the cost of a larger television or video game or jewelry or auto?

Haven’t you been watching the commercials? Banks are pushing the credit cards that got us into this mess again. Special deals with bargain points and easy payments. Did we not learn anything?

Now to the truth of the matter, what is it we WANT out of this?

Do we buy this unnecessary stuff just for the joy on the face of the receivers as they feverishly tear through the wrapping to see what they got? Do we make these purchases to satisfy their wants or do we buy to satisfy an inner need?

Needs are simple. Needs are basic. Air to breath, water and substance to eat for survival, shelter and warmth from the cold (well, I take exception in the warmth, but that is just me) and some say comfort in companionship are our needs. We must have these needs to exist.

Then the holiday season comes around and all we see and hear is, “I need this.” The urgent desire for wanting must be satisfied. Our immediate gratification with the ownership of more stuff surrounding us with comfort and prestige consumes the gift giving requirements? Acquiring the latest gadget to become the envy of all satisfies our needs?

Wants can mean coveting some thing presented as a desirable item, which becomes a need. Perhaps a character flaw that has been developed through the years, we now must purchase items, wrap them in colorful bows and ribbons, and try to out do everyone else to satisfy an inner need to please others with consumption. This could lead back to our basic need for companionship?

But satisfying a need with the purchase of an item (to be re-gifted or returned), is this what the season is all about?

We all enjoy the warm fuzzy glow of mock happiness that soon fades when the paper and ribbons are gathered and the television is turned on, but there are other ways to get the same feeling.

Without the hustle and bustle of rushing from one shopping location to another and the frantic exhaustion of preparing for a single day, then the frustration of the bills, the “wants” can be replaced by delivering “needs”.

So while you are making your list and checking it twice, stop and think. Do you really need to give that present? Could a new family tradition begin that would help the needs of others?

I know, I know, I’m preaching, but I’ll give you an example.

When I was a teenager, my father asked me to do him a favor for Christmas. After our family did our usual traditional package swapping and ripping, I dressed up like Santa Claus and he drove me to some house. We were warmly welcomed at the door by some elderly folks who hustled me into the living room. There was a small child lying on a sofa. He looked weak under a blanket, but his face lit up when he saw my costume. I played the whole routine with the “Ho Ho Ho” and being a jolly ole presenter of presents to a boy I did not know. My dad and I only stayed for a few minutes and were silent on the way home.

I don’t remember what stuff I received that Christmas, but I remember that little face. It cost me a little time away from my friends who would gather and talk about what they got, but it was worth it.

The year after that, I helped a cousin load a truck on Christmas day. He was moving to New York and needed to leave on December 25. I was glad to lift heavy items and wave good luck instead of opening sweaters and watches.

Last year, in 3 feet of snow, I walked to a familiar house to present some small presents to the mother of an old girl friend. Why? Because she asked me to check on her mom and I glad to do the small favor.

This year, as has been my tradition for the past 25 years, I will depart on Christmas Day to an open field or parking lot and spread out seed and bread. Standing silently, while others partake of merriment and celebrations, I’ll watch the birds come down and have their feast.

This ritual has turned from a want to a need.

1 comment:

Carolyn Hietala said...

What a lovely gift..... no matter what season ;0)