The Lorax: I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I’m asking you sir, at the top of my lungs – that thing! That horrible thing that I see! What’s that thing you’ve made out of my truffula tree?
The Once-ler: Look, Lorax, calm down. There’s no cause for alarm. I chopped just one tree, I’m doing no harm. This thing is most useful! This thing is a “thneed.” A theed, a fine something-that-all-people-need! It’s a shirt. It’s a sock. It’s a glove! It’s a hat! But it has other uses, yes, far beyond that. You can use it for carpets, for pillows, for sheets, for curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!
The Lorax: Sir, you’re crazy. You’re crazy with greed. There’s no one on earth who will buy that fool thneed!
[a man drives by, buys the thneed and pays the Once-ler]
The Once-ler: The birth of an industry, you poor, stupid guy! You telling me what the public will buy?
Thanksgiving is a special day, probably because it comes around once a year as an interlude for a society that is otherwise completely overrun by the need to acquire, especially at Christmastide. Approximately 18 minutes of every hour of television we watch is taken up by commercials–people trying to convince us that our bodies, our bellies, our lives are not yet complete because we have not yet purchased that latest and greatest THING. And I fall prey to it more often than not because I like stuff. I like stuff a lot.
If you think about it, our consumer culture is really a form of escapism. It’s fantasy writ large. When I’m feeling down sometimes I’ll watch a movie or read a book or sometimes I’ll go shopping for something that has promised to make my life better, to make me better. I want to believe that a new pair of jeans is going to give me the model-esque proportions that nature never did or that a new phone is going to beguile me into being the sort of person who calls people back (it’s never gonna happen). Those are fantasies that appeal to me, even though part of me knows they can never deliver. They are lies I want to believe.
And that’s not so terrible, really. To quote the eminent philosopher, Rizzo, there are worse things I could do than buy a wine-colored lipstick or two (or twenty, but who’s counting?). Fantasy has its place. The problem is that some of us spend most of our lives wishing for things, and that sort of discontent has to have an impact on our psyches. It has to affect our character.
I know when I’m in a particularly acquisitive frame of mind, I become really self-centered, just completely focused on what I lack and how I feel about what I don’t have. My time and my energy gets diverted into obtaining whatever thneed it is that I really really
need want. I’m frenetic, I’m single-minded. And to be honest, much of what I want isn’t even about the pleasure of owning it. The clothes, the makeup, the hair accessories I can’t even use because I’m hopeless with hair, the furniture and electronics are a means for me to sell myself to other people, to project an image that will be so shiny as to distract from my deficiencies. Ultimately, it’s about pride.
“So, what if it were different?” I asked myself (when you’re an acquisitive, prideful person you don’t get to have friends to ask questions of). “What if contentment were the rule instead of a holiday? What if I tried to help people instead of impress them?” “That would be weird,” I told me, “but also good. Possibly. Maybe try it and see.” I think I will. For the rest of this year I’m going to try not buying things for myself except for the things I need to live (and chocolate, which is kind of a necessity. And that coat I just purchased because it’s Black Friday and I’m not made of freaking stone).
Yeah, I have a feeling I might not do very well at this, but that probably makes it all the more necessary. Like most Americans, I have so much. Way more than I need. I have the world’s most understanding, kind, hunky husband, a healthy, ridiculous, adorable baby girl, a mom who makes a bangin’ Thanksgiving dinner, great friends, and yes, lots of cool stuff. I think with all of that I can afford to let go of envy and jealousy. I can afford to give and to love generously without wondering if I’ll make a return on my investment. I can afford to not keep score. And that’s freeing. Not cathartic, but freeing. For at least the rest of the year I’d like to try to live out Thanksgiving (minus the gluttony). It’s only a month, so you’d think it would be easy. I have a feeling it won’t be. But hopefully, it will be well worth it. I’ll let you know.
Turkey day footage:
My mom and I cooked our first turkey ever. It turned out pretty well, I think.
B took a selfie with the turkey’s butt. I don’t think anyone will ever know why.
Juliet will eat anything except for food. We finally got some turkey in her and she held it in her mouth for a while before she decided to spit it out.
Yes, that is a (clean!) diaper she’s playing with. Only the best for my little munchkin.
And now, a holiday sermon from Juliet. Pay attention; there will be a quiz.