Resisting the Tyranny of Christmas Materialism…Or Not

Diamonds = true love. Therefore, lack of diamonds means…?

Owning a home = success. So renting means…?

Top-end equipment = mastery of craft. So crappy stuff means…?

We’ve probably all struggled against these Western constructs at some point. Maybe we’ve found comfortable alignment, maybe we’ve rejected the whole shebang; probably somewhere in between. But nothing raises my love-hate complex with materialism more than Christmas.

I had it all down this year. For my Mate and Sons One and Two: a special book, or an article of clothing I’ve heard them wish for. Everyone else: homemade granola.

Christmas list? Checked off. Christmas shopping? Done. Y’all can fight over my parking space at the mall.

The Mate and I have talked; he feels the same. I wasn’t expecting any gifts less modest than what I’m giving him.

And then my electric mixer broke.

You have to understand something about mixers. There are KitchenAids, which START at $250, and then there are the cheap, hand-held kind–$25. I got a cheapie as a wedding present 29 years ago. It worked fine, but I always told myself, “When this one breaks, I’ll get a KitchenAid. I’m a great baker. I should have great gear.” It lasted 16 years, but when that cheap mixer broke (in the middle of a cake), I zipped out and got a new one…for $25.

“It’s good enough,” I told myself. “Why spend ten times that much? And I’m in a hurry. A KitchenAid…that’s a commitment. I’m not ready.”

“Y’know, REAL bakers have a KitchenAid.”

“I’m a real baker! I’m a big girl! Just look at all the incredible pies and cakes I’ve made over the years with my cheap-ass hand-held.”

“Right. So don’t you deserve the good stuff now?”

“I’m not buying into your materialistic orthodoxy! Good enough is good enough!”

“Oookay…But you could have a blue one. Or purple. Just sayin.”

Fast-forward nine years. It’s Christmas season, and Cheap Mixer #2 breaks–again. In the middle of a cake. I’ve just congratulated myself on successfully fighting off the Demons of  Buy-Buy-Buy. But I have a choice to make.

This time, I caved. Or triumphed. Whichever way you choose to look at it. But from the pride with which I’m now displaying these photos, I guess you know which way I’m looking.

Who's a big girl now? I'm a big girl now!

Who’s a big girl now? I’m a big girl now!

Lesson? I’m going to try and be less judgy about materialism. If something new and expensive makes me or someone else feel fulfilled…I’m going to consider why. That might be enough.




9 thoughts on “Resisting the Tyranny of Christmas Materialism…Or Not

  1. Well, Gretchen, you touched a nerve here. My interplay with a mixer is not even related to Christmas materialism! It has something to do with my learning to bake without electricity so, needless to say, there was not a mixer. That, I’ve told myself is “real” baking. Tiresome though. Then when I first married at age twenty, my mother-in-law gave me a mixer–a turquoise one–that I found a true marvel and used for many years. When it quit, I got a sensible hand-held one but have looked with envy (could it really be that???) at “real” mixers but have concluded they are unreasonably expensive and I’m not falling for that. I’m so stubborn about it that I don’t even use the monstrosity that my husband drug home a few years ago–HIS mixer to make HIS “special” Christmas treats. He says it was on sale because it was too big. It’s huge and doesn’t have it’s own garage but occupies a corner on the kitchen counter. I cover it with a pillow case and hope it passes for something it’s not. I have no idea what others might assume it is. No one has asked. I have just baked four batches of different kinds of cookies to go away to college grandsons and the old “should I break down and use something I think is too big and too over priced–or not”–has haunted me all day.. So far, I’ve taken pride in using my little hand-held mixer. Now your purchase has messed up my thinking! Surely it’s not really envy I’m feeling. Or is it? Wow! Yours is a reasonable size and the most beautiful blue… Congratulations. I’m thinking… .

    • Oh, wow, Rita…this sounds SO MUCH like my thinking! I await the outcome with baited breath. Not to decide is still to decide, of course, so either way you go, I hope it doesn’t roil you all up. Merry Christmas!

  2. Merely a coincidence that this turned out to challenge your materialism stance. This is about a lifeway that you excel at, that is one of the ways you share your love and compassion with your community. You wouldn’t choose a guitar because it’s cheaper. You honor yourself and spend the money as you able where it best serves your goals.
    And what a beaut! Good on ya!

  3. I don’t buy into the Christmas consumerism, either. It drives me nuts. But your post is so funny because it’s so timely. For twenty years I’ve held out on the KitchenAide for the same reasons. Do I really need it? But, oh, it’d be so nice! My handheld broke at the end of summer. I bought a new one, but I’ve been seriously watching the price of the KitchenAide’s ever since. Last month, Kohl’s ran a sale, a rebate, and allowed me multiple coupons. Then I got Kohl’s cash on what I spent (which went toward warm school clothes). All told, I netted $120 on a $300 mixer. And I LOVE it. Christmas consumerism? No. But Christmas BAKING? That I can get into!

    • Yes, for sure–I didn’t even mention the counter space issue, which was another main reason I never took the plunge. For my mixer’s “garage,” I had to move some giant pots I was storing in there. But turns out they make excellent pie-and-cake-pan-holders, so I kind of came out ahead. Gotta keep those counters free! Bake on…and thanks for visiting me!

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