Monday, December 7, 2009

Purchasing Happiness

So let's talk holiday shopping today. That's what I wrote about in my published devotion today. How's your Christmas shopping going? Have you started your list? Finished your list? Finished & wrapped your list?

When you go holiday shopping, do you go alone or with someone?

Do you go whether you feel like it or not, or do you only head to the stores when you're feeling in the Christmas Spirit?

Do you think you spend more or less when feeling good vs. when feeling down?

I almost always shop alone. I shopped a little the day after Thanksgiving, but there have been several times this season when I didn't feel like going shopping, so I didn't go.

In years past I would've pushed past that feeling in order to get this week's advertised deals. But this year I decided there would be plenty of deals to be had in the coming weeks. I told myself to relax - that spending a few extra dollars wouldn't be the worse thing in the world if I didn't see that item on deep discount again. I've also cut my list down significantly this year.

Is your shopping/gift list going to be smaller this year? Does it worry you to whittle it down? Afraid to disappoint people? I had to get over that feeling too.

I like to shop and to give, but I'm slowing down my over all pace of life. Including my holiday pace. Plus, I'm reminding myself that I cannot purchase happiness - for myself or anyone else.

Recent research shows depressed shoppers typically spend 30% more than happy shoppers. I think that's because we have a tendency to try to purchase our way to feeling happy. We call it Retail Therapy.

But if I rely on attaining new things as a main source of joy, I'll be constantly buying stuff to keep my joy up ... and forever disappointed at my purchases’ inability to live up to my unrealistic expectations of them.

Not to mention, stress will arrive with the credit card bill - sending me out shopping for another pick-me-up. Nope, there are better places to find happiness. Like in serving God and serving others. Or in loving your family. Or in hearing the Savior say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

This year I'm really focusing on the fact that lasting happiness has only been purchased once: at the cross of Christ some 2000 years ago. Thinking about all that implies, brings hope, happiness and joy that a new sweater or bottle of perfume simply cannot.

However, if I'm honest with you, I'm still hoping there's a shiny present under the tree for me come Christmas Eve.


  1. I couldn't agree more.... this year we are simplifying and cutting back -- which is not to be confused with overlooking and forgetting. The most meaningful people in our lives we will remember with gifts but not with the quantity that we had in the past perhaps. At the end of the day it is only a "thing" wrapped in pretty paper but the gift of friendship and love is enduring for much longer. How about a picture of you and a friend in a frame this year instead of spending alot of $$...of course that would mean you have to be taking pictures, which I generally don't! Oh well, nice idea though right? Maybe I'll do better in 2010 with pictures.

  2. Our Christmas gift giving has always been characterized by small budgets and this year is even more so. We will limit many gifts to "home-made". One home-made gift my extended family enjoys are the photos of family events I take during the year and give at Christmas. The photo albums I've filled have been the ONLY thing my mother-in-law has truly enjoyed in the last 30 years!

    I enjoy being in stores at Christmas on a limited basis and prefer small specialty stores, like the museum shops and book stores. Mostly I have try to do most of my shopping locally, in our small town because it helps our local business owners. My goal is to bless someone with something they truly want but would have would not or could not get for themselves.

  3. Beautiful devo today, Rachel. After your thought of sitting on the hillside listening to Jesus in person, I don't think any other gift will compare!


  4. Jennifer ReneeDecember 07, 2009

    I agree with Amy. Your devotion was beautiful and I loved it. Last year my family decided that we were not going to give gifts to each other except to the two children that are in our family. My sister gave everyone a framed picture of the Kids and my mother did give me and my two sisters a gift. I guess that idea didn't work too well. I was told this year we were not giving gifts. We'll see what happens. I always have trouble knowing what to get people for Christmas and since I'm blind I'm not able to go shopping by myself for gifts very easily. Sometimes it's a little hard finding time and getting someone to help me. So not having to buy gifts this year is jus fine with me. I did get something special for my three closest friends. I wanted to get each of them an angel figurine to let them know that they have been n angel in my life.

  5. I love the gift of pictures idea, Charlene and Diane. An album, or just a special one in a pretty frame would be a terrific gift.

    I'm all ears for more ideas like these.

    And thanks for the compliment Amy and Jennifer Renee ... honestly, I'm all ears for those too. (smiles)

  6. Rachel, that was one of the most beautiful devos I have ever read!! Thank you so much,

  7. I agree... in fact this year my girlfriends and I decided we didn't need to give each other birthday and Christmas gifts because no matter how tough things might get here in Australia we are still more blessed than the majority of people in this world. So we pooled the money we would have spent on gifts for each other and donated it to a Christian organisation that helps those less blessed than we are.

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  9. Ahhhh, Nothing stresses me out more than my shopping list! Mainly because I am not a "shopper", so I have put it off and now have to deal with all of the other last minute shoppers!

    Thanks for reminding me to cut back and slow down, to enjoy family, to enjoy this wonderful season!

    God Bless!

  10. What a beautiful and thought provoking devotion. This Christmas is full of change for my family and I. Change that started this past summer when my girlfriends and I packed up 25 years worth of Coke collecting. It caused me to rethink my shopping habits in general. The stuff that I collect is just going to be a hassle for someone else one day. I let a lot of "things" go and am lighter physically and spiritually. I now ask the question "how will life matter by getting ------- " before I buy it. You would be amazed in how much money you save.

    I have taken to the thrift stores and recycling this year. Making the old - new and the unused- usable. I am giving my time and spending it being with loved ones sharing a good meal
    and quality time.

    I would take that precious gift you offered and sit on the hillside with you Rachel. Oh, what a
    wonderful gift that would be.

  11. Rachel, thanks for both the devotional and your post! It's a great reminder to be mindful of how we celebrate Christmas. I have cut back my gift list this year also. Several years ago I decided to opt out of shopping insanity, choosing to instead prepare gift baskets for my family of different jams and preserves. This year it's Apricot Butter, Lime-Mint Jelly and Red Pepper Jam. My mom and I always do the canning together, and that is a wonderful tradition in itself. Have a blessed Christmas!


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