Sunday Inspiration: “Unplug the Christmas Machine”

The Christmas Machine has this power over us because it knows how to woo us; it speaks to the deepest, profoundest, and most sacred desires of the human heart. If it appeared as a monster, we would rise up and stop it.

But the commercial messages of Christmas appear as promises that bring tears to our eyes. Look at the bounty we are promised by the December magazines and the glowing Christmas commercials:

Our families will be together and be happy.
Our children will be well-behaved and grateful.
Our wives will be beautiful and nurturing.
Our husbands will be kind, generous, and appreciative.
We will have enough money.
We will have enough time.
We will have fun.
We will be warm.
We will be safe.
We will be truly loved.

No wonder we stop, we listen, and we want to believe. The problem comes when we buy into the notion that what we long for can be procured by the buying and selling of goods.

– from “Unplug the Christmas Machine” by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli

Advent is the religious beginning of the Christmas season, though commercially the holiday season begins earlier and earlier every year — can you believe so many stores are now open on Thanksgiving day? 

Advent is a time to prepare ourselves spiritually for the joy and hope of Christmas, and one way to do that is to adjust our expectations.

How can we let go of our perfectionism and get in touch with the true spirit of the holidays, the love that brings us together to work for a better world?

How can you unplug the Christmas Machine this season?


  1. Kay Myhrman-Toso on December 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Over the years, I have learned that I have to make a conscious effort to keep at least one foot in Advent, as one way to help unplug the Christmas Machine. For me, these efforts have all involved spiritual practices, thought they have varied greatly from year to year. At their heart, each practice has anchored me in the “why” of the season, while feeding the spiritual mystic within me. This year, I am participating in an on-line Advent journey, developed by Jan Richardson – pastor, poet, and artist. On the practical side, I have learned the hard way to confront my inner expectations. When I finally realized that I really didn’t “have” to make 10 different kinds of Christmas cookies, life became a bit more simple!

    • Emilie Richards on December 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Expectations during holidays. They can certainly be a problem. Expectations of ourselves, of others, of the season in general. Thanks for that reminder, Kay.

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