My inbox is overflowing with ads telling me that this is the biggest sales event of the year.
Which is, of course, exactly what they promised last week. And I’m sure up until Christmas the markdowns will be extraordinary.
My favorite websites have pop-up ads. I can’t go anywhere in town (not even the YMCA!) without being promised that I’m getting a rock-bottom deal.
The Christmas music, which I stream on Pandora, gets interrupted every 10 minutes with another commercial for Farmer’s Insurance. I am turned off even by things like Heifer International, which is spending more money sending me gift catalogs every week then I ever spent buying chickens for a family in Chile. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the holiday sales pitch.
I thought a lot about what to write this week for a column. I don’t think we need another lecture about side-stepping commercialism, or keeping Jesus Christ in Christmas. We know all this.
But I think it is good to remember that there is one place where we can go where we are not being manipulated to buy something. When we kneel down to pray before our Father in Heaven, or take the sacrament each week, we are given a free gift. We don’t have to buy anything, because the Savior bought us, with a price. We are entitled to all the blessings he promises us.
And when I say free gift, I should actually say two free gifts, better gifts than any makeup counter has to offer: the gifts of agency and eternal life. Completely free!
He offers us another gift, eternal exaltation. It’s not free, but it comes at a deep, deep discount. All he asks is for us to pledge our lives to him and obey his commandments. The price doesn't change, no matter what holiday season or season of life we're in.
My second son turned 8 this week, which means we are preparing for his baptism. His big gift was a set of scriptures, the real kind with silver lining and his name embossed on the front.
He spent the entire weekend marking them up with scripture crayons. He brought them over to show me the dazzling array of rainbow colors on every page. It was all I could do not to say, “Stop! Those are supposed to last until your mission.”
But I held my tongue, because here is a kid who loves the scriptures. And he marks every passage because each is more beautiful than the last. I need to have that kind of enthusiasm for the scriptures. My son reminded me that the scriptures are another free gift, more lovely than anything I can find on Black Friday.
The commercial side of Christmas isn’t going away anytime soon, and that’s OK. The gift-giving facet of Christmas holds its own kind of magic.
Yet it’s good to remember that no matter how much buying we do this time of year, we are still privy to the greatest gift our Father in Heaven ever gave: his son.