Category Archives: greed

This week’s note is an article written by Judy Pappoff, and was originally published in “Faith and Family,” Dec. 2001, p. 18. Its suggestions are still very current and applicable. May God help us to lead our children in godliness in all seasons, especially during the holidays!

 

What Does Your Family Call December 25th?

The day has been called: “Christmas,” “The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” “The Day Santa Comes,” “Baby Jesus’ Birthday,” “The Day We Give/Get Presents.” As parents, we have the responsibility of “naming” the day for our families.  Orthodox Christians celebrate the nativity, or birth, of Jesus Christ.

Most of us also participate in traditions of our society: food, decorations, socializing, presents.  What understanding do we want our children to have?  Holiday or Holy Day?  How do we tame the monster of materialism so that our children focus on the spiritual truth of the feast?

First, let’s examine our purchasing practices.  If the family has a video game system that works, does it need to be replaced?  We must set the example, and explain our actions.  Children will not see what is wasteful unless we bring it to their attention.  Then challenge them with “How might the money be better spent?”

Second, keep the focus on giving.  Let’s look at why gifts are part of this holy day.  It is because God gave us His Son – the greatest gift of all.  Then teach your children how to give, and think outside the “box” – even the Grinch realized that Christmas doesn’t come in a box!  Spend time as a family, giving homemade gifts to one another, and gifts of love to those in need.  Lavishly praise your children for these valuable gifts they give you and others.

Finally, let’s make sure our children know how to receive, with the gift of God’s Son as our example.  We accept and are thankful for Jesus Christ.  When your children light a candle at the Nativity service, remind them to say “thank you” to God for His Son.  Thankfulness is the response to all gifts, large or small.  Seasonal movies such as “The Little Drummer Boy” teach this.  Know when these will be on.  Stop your busy-ness, watch these together, discuss what is good; and in that quiet moment, remember also to say “thank you” to God for the children He has placed in your care.

by Judy Pappoff,  Faith and Family (Dec 2001 pg 18), found online at http://www.antiochian.org/christianeducation/whatdoesyourfamilycalldecember25th

Here’s another article in the same vein: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/family/articles/giving-receiving

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Below are links to articles and ideas of ways to help our children combat materialism and consumerism during the holidays.

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“Lavishing our children with gifts deprives them of something far more valuable: shared time and experiences. In our overscheduled lives, we are often too busy or tired to do a family art project, play a board game or bake cookies. I can’t remember ever roasting chestnuts on an open fire, but it’s always sounded like a lovely idea. Most families say that what they need more of is time – not stuff. And getting in and out of shopping centers steals your time.

Overabundance of holiday gifts offers a short-term payoff, but the long-term consequences are high. Mary Bellis Waller, author of “Crack-Affected Children,” likens materialism to cocaine addiction. Buying stuff stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, which creates a temporary high, but ultimately leaves one unsatisfied. The bottom line is that substance abuse is substance abuse.

Not surprisingly kids who are overindulged materially tend to have the worst relationships with their parents. Money can’t buy love, but it sure seems to finance some serious familial discord.” ~ from http://www.progressive.org/do_not_ruin_holiday_season_with_materialism.html

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“The primary message of commercial culture is that the things we buy will make us happy. In fact, that’s not true. Research tells us that our sense of wellbeing depends on relationships, a sense of community, spiritual nourishment, and/or job satisfaction, not on acquiring “things.” Children who are more materialistic are less happy, more depressed, more anxious and have lower self-esteem.” Read about researchers’ findings here: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/sites/default/files/materialism.pdf

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“‘The gimmes’ are all around us during the holiday season. It can be hard for kids — and parents — to look beyond all of the product-driven hoopla and remember what the holidays are really about.” So begins an article titled “Making the Holidays Less Materialistic for Kids”, found at http://dcmcegrowingtogether.com/issues/2012/december-2012/making-holidays-less-materialistic/.

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In the brief article “Minimalizing the Materialism of the Holidays,” found at http://drconklindanao.com/minimizing-materialism-holidays/, Dr. Deanna Conklin-Danao offers suggestions of how to scale back on giving our children stuff; including suggestions for different age levels, as well as a reminder that grandparents/relatives need to also be informed of a family’s decision to minimalize on material gifts.

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Find 10 suggestions of ways to help your teen let go of holiday consumerism at http://www.postconsumers.com/education/teen-holiday-consumer-tips/.

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Find reader-suggested ideas for hands-on ways to help children combat materialism at the holidays at https://www.parentmap.com/article/9-holiday-traditions-that-replace-materialism-with-meaning.

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“Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?” Read more, including a list of 35 non-material gifts that your children will never forget, at http://www.becomingminimalist.com/35-gifts-your-children-will-never-forget/

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On Materialism

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal;” (Mt. 6:19)

 

In this age in the United States of America (and, indeed, throughout the world), the acquisition of “stuff” is what society embraces as the goal for life. With the forthcoming holiday season, in particular, the fight-to-convince-everyone-to-acquire-more-stuff will be intensifying all around us. But is more stuff really what we or our children need?

 

Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (Mt. Athos) said, “I have realized that the destruction of man lies in the abundance of material goods, because it prevents him from experiencing the presence of God and appreciating His benevolence. If you want to take someone away from God, give him plenty of material goods. He will instantly forget Him forever.”

 

As Orthodox Christian parents, we do not want to see our children forget God forever. Nor do we want them to miss out on experiencing God’s presence and appreciating His benevolence. Therefore it is imperative that we be aware of the amount of material goods we are amassing as well as how much stuff our children have been/are being given.

 

There are many articles available to parents to help them combat materialism in their home and with their families. Here are suggestions gleaned from a few:
Begin by focusing any comparisons on those less fortunate than you. Because, as Theodore Roosevelt so aptly put it, “comparison is the thief of joy,” let us be careful not to compare ourselves and our stuff to others. If we must compare, then  let us compare ourselves to those who have less than we do. Then we will be amazed at all that we have, and hopefully find it in ourselves to do what we can to share from our abundance with those who have less. (Idea found at http://www.becomingminimalist.com/consumer-isnt/.)

Give time, money, and/or things away to someone else in need together with your child. “The real opposite of materialism is spirituality… Try to do something with your child that’s focused on giving to others in a way that she can see,” says Paul Coleman, a family therapist and author of How to Say It to Your Kids. The article at http://www.babycenter.com/0_materialism-how-to-discourage-it_67142.bc goes on to encourage parents to include their children in a project like making a meal together and taking it to an elderly neighbor.

 

Foster your children’s creativity. Rather than buying them all the latest gadgets and toy sets, provide materials and allow them to make or build their own. Once they’ve built them, encourage them to play with these toys. Better yet, play along with them! The memories you will make together are far better than any purchased gift, even if you are “just” cooking in a cardboard “kitchen” or driving toy cars all over a butcher paper neighborhood. (Ideas found at http://www.kristensguide.com/Family/Parenting/kids_arent_materialistic.asp.)

 

Use the plethora of advertisements appealing to our greed as an opportunity to talk with your children about how the companies paying for the advertisements are trying to make you feel discontent with what you have, and convince you that you need to buy their product. Talk with your children about the product being advertised. Do your children really think it’s as amazing as it is advertised to be? What makes you think so/not? (Idea from  http://www.parenthood.com/article/10_simple_ways_to_combat_greed.html#.VEf6AseJOuZ.)

 

Consider challenging another family to join you in the Minimalism Game (see http://www.theminimalists.com/game/ for details). On day 1 of the game, each participant (or participating family) gets rid of (gives away, recycles, or otherwise shares) one item before midnight. On day 2, two items; day 3, three; etc. The participant who keeps at it the longest is the winner! (Actually, everyone who participates wins because of eliminating excess in their home while helping others!)

 

‘Tis the season… Let us prepare to face materialism head on, and find ways to combat its influence in our lives and in the lives of our children. As we successfully turn away from our greed and toward Christ and His people, we will, indeed, be storing up “treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:20-21)

Below are additional ideas for combating materialism:

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Work on improving your gratitude. Not just at Thanksgiving. Not just when you have all that you need. Even when you do not have everything that you need. “Begin focusing more on your blessings than your troubles.” ~ from http://www.becomingminimalist.com/consumer-isnt/
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“The surest path to contentment is generosity,” so look for ways to give. Generous people generally feel more fulfilled and grateful. “Giving forces us to recognize all we possess and all we have to offer. It allows us to find fulfillment and purpose in helping others.” ~ from http://www.becomingminimalist.com/consumer-isnt/.

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Spend time on your kids instead of money. If their parents are always busy, children may likely retreat back to their toys and electronics: materialistic stuff! A real family life, full of doing fun activities together as a family, is an excellent replacement for the materialistic alternative. ~ from http://www.babycenter.com/0_materialism-how-to-discourage-it_67142.bc)

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Talk with your teens about the pull of materialism and how to balance it by printing and reading this pdf: http://www.lordoflifeonline.org/Youth/Materialism.pdf

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It will be Christmas before we know it. There is an excellent article about handling materialism as Orthodox Christians, especially at Christmastime. Find the article at http://www.antiochian.org/christianeducation/whatdoesyourfamilycalldecember25th

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