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Recent college graduate José Martinez attempts to get back to the true meaning of Advent and prepare properly for Christmas this year, living alternatively to the overwhelming consumerism surrounding him.

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December 8th, 2011

The Importance of Unplugging

 
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As I sat on my couch last night watching TV, every once in a while warily eyeing the I kid you not 12 nutcrackers my mom has scattered around our entertainment center, I found myself getting mad at the TV.

I think it started to happen around the fourth time I saw one of those commercials where a husband and wife are engaged in some contrived, stunted dialogue about what she wants for Christmas, and then he breaks out a piece of jewelry and she squeals and loves him a little bit more because every kiss begins with Kay. Or maybe I saw one too many bows atop a Lexus – it’s funny because although that’s how Lexus chooses to convey the Christmas spirit, all those bows make me want to do is key those cars. Irreparably.

I didn’t know what to do. Then I realized I could very easily turn off the TV.

Think about that for minute – it actually had to occur to me to turn off the TV. I guess that’s what happens in a world that’s as plugged in as ours is. Besides, once I turn off the TV and let the room become silent I’d just be asking those nutcrackers to come to life.

I took that risk, and am happy to report that I was not ambushed. But the importance of silence and reflection is something I’m constantly relearning (and constantly re-kicking myself for re-forgetting all the time). Look at today’s Microchallenge – “Spend some time outside today and take a look at the earth and sky God created.” That’s not an activity that requires any talking or any doing. It’s a great way to unwind from the stress of watching couples give each other jewelry and Lexuses (Lexi?) on TV.

In fact, it’s a great way to really remove yourself from everything we’ve made of Christmas, and instead to place yourself in Advent. We’re in a season of waiting, and it’s a season of questions without answers. Dealing with that requires a lot of hope, and it’s hard to cultivate that hope when you’re thinking about all the shopping you haven’t done or about all the jewelry or cars you’re not going to be getting your significant other this season. We can only hope there are some kisses that don’t begin with Kay.

So go outside. Get yourself far away from the TV, from the malls, from the nutcrackers, from the Christmas tree lots. Go to a natural Christmas tree lot instead – also called a “forest” by people who aren’t writers trying to be witty – or somewhere similar and look around. Let yourself marvel. Try to be in awe. And there’s not a whole lot more you need to do than that. There aren’t many things that are better for a hopeful attitude then realizing how beautiful the world we live in is, despite all the bad things and annoying Christmas commercials that happen in it. We’re in the midst of a season that’s a period of intentional waiting and anticipating – one look at the creation that surrounds us is enough of a reminder of what’s so great about the baby we’ll greet on December 25.

 
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The Author : José Martinez
José Martinez is a writer who works primarily for Southern California Public Radio, reporting on the South Los Angeles beat and focusing on issues of health and quality of life. He's a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and has a degree in theological studies. From the way he writes, it's clear he thinks he's funny. There are few things he loves more than California burritos, the way his dogs run into walls, and road trips. He'd like it if you tweet him.
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