It started months ago. Back in September, or maybe even August. Just a whisper at first, before the flood. A precocious harbinger of the storm to come.
I noticed it first at the mailbox. An additional weight. A little less room. Gaining momentum with each passing week. Until now, each day, I am met with stacks of glossy catalogs depicting heart-stirring scenes illuminated by twinkling lights. Porcelain people glowing with contentment and bliss. Offering their secret. The keys to the picture of perfection.
Peddling personalized toys, Fair Isle sweaters and trendy trappings in the guise of memories and joy and fulfillment. All with free shipping.
And then overnight the subtlety is replaced with a garish barrage on my senses. The radio waves become saturated with countdowns, and promises. Slipping words like cherished and love and always remember between jingles for diamonds and electronics at unbeatable deals. "Do your carpets need cleaned? Will your family feel loved? Will your home look beautiful? Will you?" Until even the songs that once made me sing are sending the same message. This is love. This is celebration. Can you measure up?
At home the onslaught continues. Movies framing overflowing tables and breathtaking homes. A man with a beard making dreams come true. Reconciliations. Perfection. And, maybe worst of all: Bleating in and out in the spaces between my children's television shows, with a steady hypnotic beat: "Don't you want this? Shouldn't you have this? Won't this make you happy? If they love you they will. If you love them you will." Happiness for sale at a price much larger than a credit card payment.
And I find myself dreading it. All of it and what it has come to mean. Surely a baby in a manger, hope for the world, a selfless gift of love, was not supposed to become this. This machine that pumps out nerve wracking pressure, and unmeetable expectations, and consumerism in the place of peace and gratitude, hope and love.
Surely we have gotten it wrong.