I love words. I love the meaning of words. I love etymology, the heritage or roots of words.
Given that it’s almost Christmas, I wanted to contrast what we are bombarded with by inviting thoughts on an old expression, ‘to spoil yourself rotten.’ Why?
While at first glance it may conjure up images of being surrounded by bling and booty, indulging in the pleasures of adornment and lavishing those you love with everything their hearts desire, upon looking more closely we see another side to this brag-worthy pastime.
To spoil something is to cause damage to its value. In the case of a person, to damage the character, typically through “complying unrestrainedly with its desires” (Collins Dictionary). A person who is rotten is “morally corrupt” (Collins Dictionary). Thus when we “spoil (a person) rotten,” we inadvertently do them harm, not good. You see where this is heading…
Christmas, the time of giving. Even if you don’t want to. Even if you don’t have the cashflow. Even if you don’t like someone, for hecks’ sake. The pressure we place on ourselves at Christmas is astounding, and fodder for another article (sign up for email updates so you never miss out). Often our aim at Christmas is to be spoiled, or to spoil those we love – kids, grandkids, partner, lover, parents – in order to impress their worth to us upon them. But at what cost?
Each year, it seems, we try to outdo ourselves, especially when we have children and especially in this technological age of ever-new, ever-more gadgetry. The commercialism of Christmas is tragic. Green and red are such apt colours – green for envy and greed, red for money and anger. But what are we really doing to ourselves?
When we become caught up in the madness of spending big, trying to impress and desperately wanting to please everyone around us (because we love them, yes, but also because we are pressured to keep up with the Joneses), we can lose sight of the effect we are having on our society, children especially.
We are attaching worth to what we can give, and what others can receive, whilst at the same time setting up an expectation that at Christmas time, you deserve all your wishes to come true, that is, to have everything your heart desires.
The reality is, that’s not life. And it’s not healthy. Don’t get me wrong. Giving is one of THE most soul-enriching activities we can undertake. But giving to excessive and setting up expectations that it will happen ‘just because it’s Christmas’ creates unrealistic feelings of self-worth and resentment when they are not fulfilled by others. It can set us and others up for disappointment, and also breed a phenomenal greed that seriously does morally corrupt folks.
So sprinkle your loved ones with kisses, hug them tight and tell them you love them, make small offerings from the heart. Cook a meal and share it. Mow the lawn for a mate. Drive an elderly person to the shops and carry their groceries for them. Hand-make a card, picture or cake. Take your kids to the beach or snow and play with them. And if you must spend money on a gift, choose something that expresses your feelings or will be of use to that person’s life. Don’t buy to fill the stocking with cheap junk that will be thrown out. Don’t buy the latest gadget because everyone else has it. Decide for yourself if it will enrich the person’s life, and only buy it if you can afford it without creating financial stress for yourself. There are other ways to give and time is the most valuable gift of all.
So have a safe and happy time with family and friends this holiday season, and please, don’t spoil yourself rotten. You’re amazing just as you are.