12/24/2001

 

Relationships are Better than Christmas ‘Stuff’

 

It’s Christmas Eve. A time of year that pulls us many ways. It draws us into the spiritual meaning of the season. It prompts us to go out and buy lots of “stuff” for presents, and saddles us with more “stuff” of our own accumulated from presents. It demands of our time for all the shopping and preparations. Plus all that “stuff” demands time to earn the money to buy, to maintain, to use enough to justify having it. With all that “stuff” making so many demands on our time it’s good to think about just how important time is.

 

When you boil it all down everything comes down to relationships. What do humans need to be happy? If you look at early humans the good things they had in life were all some kind of relationship: a small close-knit group, a close relationship with the Earth and with whatever gods they chose to believe in, and often a relationship with some instrument of creative outlet, their art expressed in decorated crafts, music, or elaborate rituals. Or if you prefer to look at biblical examples, what kind of life did God set up for Adam and Eve before they blew it? Relationships. With each other, with the animals and garden they over saw, with their God who would apparently periodically visit with them as in the scripture “…they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (one of my favorites).

 

Everything that is important to happiness is some kind of relationship. There are the important relationships with those close to you. There’s a relationship with God, or your own spiritual side, or with the Earth, or whatever your beliefs prompt in you. There’s a relationship with your creative side, that can take expression in music or art or an attractive garden or any number of other things.

 

Everything that really matters is a relationship. And the key ingredient in any relationship is time. You can’t have a relationship with someone without spending a certain amount of time with them. There’s just no substitute. And it applies to every relationship. You won’t be a very close friend if you never spend any time with your friend. You won’t be a very good musician if you never play your instrument.

 

You can spend time with a TV, but you can’t really have a relationship with it. If you diligently spent hours every evening for a year with the TV you’d have invested a lot of time, but you wouldn’t have anything to show for it. Now if you’d spent that time playing your instrument, or with your kids, or doing things with your mate, you’d have something to show for it.

 

So if relationships are the key thing in life, and time is the key thing in relationships, where does all that “stuff” fit in? Well, mostly in eating up time. There’s nothing wrong with “stuff” inherently, it’s just a matter of priority. If you spend an evening making Christmas cookies with your kids, now you’ve got some more “stuff” (although this particular “stuff’ probably won’t be around long). But you’ve also spent an evening with your kids, so you’ve got something more to show for it than just cookies. But for the most part “stuff” just eats up time, and time is all you have.

 

There are lot’s of reminders to focus on the important things in the season, and this is one more of them. Merry Christmas, and don’t let those cookies go to waste.