“The trouble with you and me, my friend,” Don Henley once sang, “is the trouble with this nation. Too many blessings, too little appreciation.”
Such sentiments are necessarily at odds with the cult of consumption and its belief that one is incomplete until one buys what the store is selling, that one can change one's entire life, find wholeness and a better self, in the things one owns. It is a faith — the word is used advisedly — that finds expression each year in scenes of people surging into temples of commerce, pulling guns and getting into fistfights while trying to buy things they feel they need.
But the things we need most in this life cannot be found in temples of commerce or bought at any price. Did more of us know that, back in the era when men still wore hats and women gloves? Maybe. Or maybe that's just a trick of memory, painting olden days in sepia tones.
So fine. No olden days; no sepia tones here. But you don't have to go back to 1950 to marvel at how some of us define what matters in this life. You can just go back to last week, to a holiday weekend some folks spent camping at the mall and punching one another in the face — and at least one of us spent in a hospital bed giving thanks for Jell-O. Something in that juxtaposition makes you want to pause, reconfigure your ideas of what truly matters in this life and what, ultimately, does not. Perhaps that's only to be expected when a woman is able to locate grace in a gelatin snack as the shoppers rush home with their trea-sures.
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