More Freedom: Social Justice in a Season of Consuming

BY LU FIRESTONE | December 13, 2016

As my children grow, Christmas has become more heavy lifting.

A few days ago I noticed my son curled up under a blanket in those dark, early hours before school, carefully circling items in the toy store magazines that had magically appeared in our mailbox. And I realized that, as parents, we were entering a time of clear preferences when it came to gifts. Gone were those early years of anything goes. As we enter the Christmas season once again, I find myself asking more urgently than ever how, as a parent, I counter the pull of consumerism that wants to steam train over any other meaning I might try to coax out of Christmas? How do we get free to get down to the heart of the matter?

Have you ever watched the TED talk by Barry Schwartz called “The Paradox of Choice”?

It has nothing to do with Christmas.

And it has everything to do with Christmas.

Schwartz targets the most central tenet of our culture and a foundational belief about consumerism—that more choice leads to more freedom—and argues instead that an overabundance of choice has left us paralyzed and dissatisfied.

Sound familiar?

I feel like Barry is onto something.

As people of faith, we are called to stand as a counter-sign to the world.

And during the Christmas rush, part of that means setting up some good old-fashioned, value-driven limits in a season that can feel like a rollercoaster gone haywire.  

Just Parenting bloggers have come together to reflect on ways they’re tackling this through this holiday season, and ways in which they work to incorporate reflection, generosity, depth, and creativity into their experience of Advent. Click on each image below to read their reflections.

However you decide to navigate this sacred season, it does seem to hold that less choice sometimes ends up equaling more freedom.  Go towards freedom—the kind of freedom that opens up time for the sacred, the silent, and the holy gift of Advent to bless your family.