Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Instant Gratification

I decided this morning that instant gratification is ruining our society.  We're obviously aware of the impact of technology...and yes, it's nice.  It's nice to be able to look up anything instantly, call people at any time (no need to have a pay phone or quarter), or watch a show or movie whenever you want.  No need to wait until Saturday morning for your favorite cartoon--just pull it up on Netflix or the DVR.  We see pictures instantly on Facebook, mere moments after friends' babies are born.  We download music moments after the album releases, order items from our couch and have them arrive the next day, and email or text people to get our message across instantly.  Sorry, snail mail.  Heck, even the prevalence of premarital sex (and at ever-younger ages) plays into this as well.  So while all these things are convenient, they're doing nothing to teach us patience. 

Recently I've been getting very frustrated with the emergence of Christmas in October.  I hate seeing Christmas displays across the way from Halloween candy, and the way we just skip over Thanksgiving completely makes me crazy.  Part of me thinks we should adopt Canada's thanksgiving, just because it times out better for the early introduction of Christmas.  We lose a vacation day, but heck, make Black Friday a holiday then.  I'm a purist, and I hate to hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving night.  Back in the day we didn't hear Christmas music at all until then, and the all-day music didn't happen until Christmas Eve!  Now it starts in mid-November (if not sooner), all day every day, right through.  Even Black Friday has been stretched earlier, with sales well ahead of the actual day coupled with crazy hype all the way there.  And if that wasn't enough, we stretch the madness out to Cyber Monday now, as well.  I've been shaking my head all week at the Christmas lights popping up all over, and the last month of mall shopping has been downright sickening.  I'm not ready for it yet, and it bugs me that we're rushing the season so early.  It never used to be this bad, and I feel like it's cheapening the season.

Part of what makes anything in life special is that there's some anticipation leading up to it.  Think about it--Christmas was special as a kid because we had this one special time of year where everything was focused on the holiday.  Advent calendars, countdown chains, and all of the traditional preparations made the season so exciting, and it was all crammed into one very special month.  Finishing school is a big deal because you've had a certain period of time to anticipate the ending.  Weddings and babies both have "waiting periods" for a reason--time to prepare and get excited.  Back in my dating days, one of my best first kisses came after weeks of nothing but great conversation and very deliberate restraint.  I just don't think any of these experiences would be as exciting without that build-up. 

On the other hand, if the time gets stretched out too long, it becomes old hat, just part of regular life.  If we had to go through the same gestation period as an elephant (22 months), we'd probably get a little bored with the concept and the excitement would probably trail off until right before the end.  Likewise, if we keep stretching out Christmas preparations way in advance, that special period that makes the season so great will just be part of life this time of year.  Instead of knowing you need to fit in certain activities during this special month, procrastination will reign as people think they have months to do it.  It just doesn't make it as urgent, so chances are, it might not get done.

Maybe I'm just a stick-in-the-mud purist and I need to get with the times.  Maybe I should just jump right in and appreciate the bonus time we have to enjoy the season.  But I still can't get past the importance of Thanksgiving, and the reminder to be thankful (particularly when heading into a season of greed and materialism) is that much more important. 

As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I'm a little bummed that we're not quite where I was hoping we would be by now--pregnant with #2 and in a much better financial situation than we were before.  Craig's job situation has changed, and it's probably a bit better than it was last year, though for non-financial reasons.  Baby #2 just isn't happening right now, and it's disappointing.  However, we have much to be thankful for, and at this point I'm in no position to complain.  But again, per my theory above, if it would have happened right away, I just don't think it would have the same impact as it will when we've been waiting and anticipating it for this long.  I've maintained all along that it'll happen in God's perfect timing, so while I have all of my earthly plans and schedules, I know that whatever His timing is is better than what I could imagine.  It's not easy to wait, but I know it'll be worth it.  And if it never happens?  Well, hopefully I'll have the grace to accept that, too, and appreciate all we have been given. 

You'd never know it by our society, but there's nothing wrong with slowing down a bit.  Everything happens in its own time.  We don't need to get ahead of ourselves just to make things happen faster.  It cheapens the experience and doesn't teach the importance of the process of preparation.  And God knows that whether it's our baby or His baby that we're preparing for, that time is precious.

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