One of the things I get around to doing sometime every Sunday is sifting through the fliers in the newspaper. Some of them I do want to see, like the "SmartSource magazine" and "redplum" for the coupons and promotion codes they offer. Others entertain and/or irritate depending almost entirely on my mood.
I probably need not observe that this time of year the thickness of the pile of inserts towers over what's left after the separating's been done. The news is overpowered by the stuff people want us to want. They want us to want it enough to part with our money to get it. Today the difference between the two piles was truly impressive. The wanting us to want is reaching desperation stage, I guess.
More impressive than the pile of inserts, however, was one claim that made me stop my sheep and goats routine. At the bottom left on the front of the Sears ad these words appeared in a broad red strip: Real Gifts Real Joy. Both "reals" were green and the words "gifts" and "joy" were white. All four words are uppercase and run together. Definitely eye-catching. But, oh so not true. Not at Sears. Not at any store.
I experienced real gifts and real joy just yesterday in our double destination trip to Columbia. In the late morning (after successfully extricating ourselves from the Christmas parade traffic) we had a visit with my brother and his daughter at the USC School of Music -- and an undistinguished lunch at Wendy's. Then, Tal and I attended a funeral for a member of Tal's family in the early afternoon. Meeting traffic and the lackluster food with good humor, being witness to the beginning of a college career and to the end of a long life, standing with blood and by marriage family, loving and being loved ... those are the real gifts and the real joys.
My admonition to myself and to anyone else who cares to listen? Real gifts and real joy cannot be purchased. Real gifts and real joy spring out of relationship. Don't accept any substitute no matter how clever the marketing or bold the promise.