Memo to friends bearing gifts:
Before you line up for the post-Thanksgiving sales, the ones that start before God and the sun awake, I want to say — don’t buy me anymore stuff.
This Thanksgiving, I’m feeling thankful for the stuff I already have. Thank you very much. In fact, pardon the attitude, but I’m stuffed with way too much stuff. I’ve had enough of the super-sized, grande, vinti, jumbo, all-you-can-eat dose of super-warehoused, StuffMart materialism.
No, I’m not one of the Kaiser workers who split this week’s $315 million lotto prize. I’m just a hospital chaplain. And if you’re wondering where I got the “unchaplain” sounding attitude, I should explain that I recently returned from New Orleans with the California Air National Guard. And I can tell you, after seeing what water can do to stuff, I’m determined this year, more than ever, to say: “Enough!”
I don’t need any more stuff. Stuff has no value. I saw too many McMansions subdivided by falling trees. Our unit chased too many looters.
And my conclusion is embarrassing: We have more than enough stuff. And the more stuff we have, the more we demand it be protected. Gulf Coast residents complained the federal government didn’t do enough to protect their stuff from the coming storm or the onslaught of looters that followed.
As I walked patrol with the soldiers through the New Orleans streets, we passed mountains of stuff that had been robbed, ruined and ransacked. I recalled the words of the most famous homeless man that ever lived: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”
This is the same man many of us honor this season in the giving and receiving of gifts — yet we miss his point. For he went on to admonish his followers that real treasure had spiritual weight, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Real treasure isn’t found in post-Thanksgiving sales. Witness the long return lines of gifts you gave or received — all because we have enough. Real treasure isn’t what you have; it’s what you give. So, I’m sending out an SOS — Send Our Stuff.
Make a donation to the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, AidChild or the Heifer Project. Buy some warm blankets for the homeless. Send a donation overseas to the latest earthquake, flood or fire victim.
If anyone wants to know why you have suddenly become so generous, tell them, “Norris Burkes has enough stuff, besides, I don’t think he liked the pink tie I bought him.”
Then cock your head to one side, looking at them just so, and ask, “Didn’t you get his memo?”