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Holiday Shopping Won’t Fill The Hole In Your Heart

The holiday shopping season began with news of a Walmart employee who was trampled to death by early morning bargain-seekers who stampeded through the doors to get their shopping fix.

That incident capped weeks of gloomy economic news that sent the Dow Jones plummeting, affecting not just average citizens but the wealthiest of all. On December 1st, the National Bureau of Economic Research said we are in a recession and recovery is expected to take a long time.

We are inundated with horrifying doomsday news about the state of our economy and consumer culture. Does it correlate to the state of our hearts?

Compulsive shoppers will tell you that their purchases give them a sense of euphoria – it makes them feel more attractive, powerful, or secure. Even people who aren’t oniomaniacs engage in compulsive spending once-in-a-while. Did you know that it’s most common during the winter holiday months? It turns out that buying stuff acts as a temporary remedy for depression, anxiety, loneliness, anger, and boredom. In a society that emphasizes materialism for every stage of life, shopping is an acceptable way to fill an emotional void.

Shopping feeds the fantasy of possessing what we want and provides a sense of control that we can get what we need. But it’s all smoke and mirrors. Shopping and spending will not stave off fear of the recession, heal the hurts, diminish regrets, relieve stress, decompress anger and resentment, or boost self-esteem.

You can “shop ’till you drop” to try to feel better – but it will never supplant the basic human need for a deep sense of personal satisfaction and abundance that comes from the feeling of being appreciated, accepted, acknowledged and loved; which in turn comes from simple things like doing honest work, accepting responsibility, caring for others, learning, playing, helping people, and making useful things like food, clothing, shelter, music, artwork, and simple toys.

We’ve replaced the things that really satisfy us with shopping. It can’t fill the hole in our hearts because what’s missing and what we long for – cannot be bought.

What has any of this got to do with homeschooling? Plenty. The act of homeschooling provides parents and children with an opportunity to experience that which is soul-satisfying. Children get to discover, explore, and develop their unique talents and strengths. Parents get to be with their children in meaningful measures of time. Homeschool moms and dads actively contribute on a continuum to the development of their children in every possible way – intellectually, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. They help their children live extraordinary lives.

For couples, the parenting partnership is enhanced through the nurturing of the children. Their bond becomes strong – and more precious than any gift from Walmart.

Make a decision not to participate in the fearful mindset of the recession and the despair of the consumer culture. Avoid talk of lack that may frighten your children. Help them understand that the state of your heart does not fluctuate with the Dow Jones Industrial average or the balance in your bank account. Your homeschooling heart is overflowing with what really matters. There is plenty for everyone that will outlast this and every economic cycle.

This issue of Homefires has some great ideas for filling the holidays and the New Year with what really counts. Get some resources for developing new family traditions, and instead of spending money – spend time on creative writing projects for the whole family. You’ll be surprised how these activities will nurture and sustain happy hearts in challenging times.

Keep the homefires burning,

Diane Flynn Keith
Editor of Homefires & Author of Carschooling

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