Why Bother To Be Content?

 

Why Bother To Be Content?

No matter their age, gender, or occupation, I can spot a contented person when I see one. Contented children are easily satisfied and grateful when you give them a simple treat such as a peppermint stick with their hot chocolate. Adults who are content, relax and enjoy the moments that make up any given day. But during the Christmas season, if we are not watchful, our contentment can be challenged. 

Capitalism and Commercialism

I am grateful that our trade and industry is controlled by private owners for profit rather than controlled by the state. Capitalism ensures free enterprise, but consumers need to be wise. Businesses are in the business of selling and marketing goods. They also understand how to stir up discontentment. You may think you have everything you need until you see something better. 

Christmas commercials began airing before Thanksgiving. In one such commercial, Santa and his elves are shown making the wish of a child come true by delivering a new family car on Christmas morning. In another commercial, if you are not sure of the perfect gift to give, a diamond ring will spread the cheer. 

Realistically though, most people cannot afford a new car or diamond ring. But marketers do not care if you can afford what they are selling. They just know that discontentment gives them a better chance of making a profit. Planting an idea is sometimes all it takes. 

To be content with what we have is the way to live contentedly during this consumer buying season. Knowing our true core values, will keep us steady when tempted to buy more than we need or can afford. 

My husband and I have always made it a point to live within our means. Early in our marriage, we had three children and one income. Christmas shopping on a tight budget made me wish I could give my children more than I could. But I also knew that toys and gadgets never make memories worth holding onto.

Instead of overspending, we spent time building traditions that last longer than any of the newest game devices. Gathering around the table for a special Christmas morning breakfast, sledding, caroling, or watching Christmas movies kept us together and out of debt during the holiday seasons. And our sons were none for the worse for it. Even as adults, they still look forward to celebrating Christmas with the simple, but meaningful traditions we gave them long ago. 

Why bother to be content? Contentment is worth cultivating since it makes for better memories than any amount of debt.  

 

Why Bother Staying Put?

Why Bother Staying Put?

Thirty years ago, when we first moved into our present home, if one were to describe my level of satisfaction with it, the word content would not have been used in the description. Instead, I hung on my husband’s words when he assured me, “We will live here for five years and then sell it and move on.” But, we never sold, we never moved and instead, grew content with staying.

  We Stayed and Contentment Came 

We drove by the house more than once before buying it. It was a little old farmhouse on a large lot, and at the time, on the edge of town. We knew the people wanted to sell the house without a realtor and it took them days to finally show us the inside. I remember the feeling I had when we toured it for the first time: it was less than satisfying. The small kitchen had green linoleum and white metal cabinets. The living room, dark brown carpet. In the one bathroom sat a pink toilet and tub. There was one bedroom with a closet and I wondered where our sons would sleep. We ascended the squeaky wooden stairs to an open dormitory space where you could only stand upright if you stood in the middle of the room.  

I had always imagined the house I would like to live in and this was not it. Yet we were desperate for a home of our own. Deciding to relocate into town after living in the country where cars were swallowed whole by springtime mud, we recently sold our house. We were temporarily living with friends. My pregnant state did not make me a patient wife and my husband, anxious to see me happy again, assured me that although the house was small, it would not be our forever after home. We purchased the little house on the big lot. 

I remember the day we moved in. The snow fell wet and steady. Putting things away in the kitchen, the drawers squeeked every time I slid them open. Going to bed that night, I woke to car lights shining in the window. I told myself I could make this house our home until we sold it and moved on. But we never seemed to move on. 

Instead, that first spring, our fourth son was born and rather than grass, tansy and thistle grew in the large yard. The roof of the old chicken shed collapsed and my husband noted the garage with a dirt floor listed to one side. He made plans to build a new one.  

The following spring, the boys made a fort in the big tree by the barn, and played football in the yard that now had more grass than tansy. The new garage was complete and my husband added on to the kitchen, tore out the metal cabinets and pulled up the green linoleum. Each year, our little house on the big lot improved. 

Remembering that this was not our forever after house, one spring a realtor walked our property and we discussed selling and subdividing options with him. He told us we should stay. It was a great piece of property to raise a family on. Another year, we took a road trip, just to see if we could find something better somewhere else; a larger home in a climate where it didn’t snow so much. Instead, we came back and made more improvements on our little house on the big lot. 

Now, after so many years and so many improvements, this little old farm house on the large lot has become our forever after home. 

Why bother staying put? Sticking around somewhere long enough is worth it. You just might find your contentment was there all along.

Why Bother Watching a Good Old Christmas Movie?

Why Bother Watching a Good Old Christmas Movie?

Given a list of Christmas movies along with their main characters, It’s a Wonderful Life and George Bailey surpass A Christmas Carol and Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Story with Ralphie Parker and Elf with Will Ferrell. For me, George Bailey’s story sends a timeless message worth remembering.

In light of the movie, George Bailey doesn’t fully realize the life he’s lived has actually been a good life until Clarence Oddbody, an angel, shows him something different, a life where he’d never been born. Going back in time, Clarence demonstrates to George that his family and friends would have lived more tragic and unhappy lives without him.

When George realizes that his small, uninteresting and pointless time on earth really did matter, he wants his life back. So instead of jumping off a bridge and bringing an end to his story, he races back home. His wife and four noisy kids greet him with a surprise; a basket full of money to help him recover from the monetary loss that could have put him in jail, and a room full of friends.  

Compare Not

But the reason George thought of his life as something small, uninteresting, and pointless was because he compared himself to others. 

Unlike Harry, his brother, who enlisted in the army and became a pilot shooting down enemy planes, George, could not enlist. His ear had been damaged when he’d rescued Harry from drowning while sledding on a pond. But, they were both heroes, just at different times and for different reasons. 

Then there was George’s best friend Sam Wainwright who invested in plastics and made himself a millionaire. George, on the other hand, had instead invested in the lives of the lower class loaning them money so they could build their own homes. Both Sam and George were investors, but earned different returns. 

Then of course there is the villain, Mr. Potter, a vain and heartless business man who George does not want to emulate and Uncle Billy whose scattered brain causes the financial loss that threatens to destroy George’s saving and loans business. 

But George does not condemn either of the men, he’s bigger than that. Instead, he extends empathy toward them.

A Timeless Message Worth Remembering

It might be helpful if Clarence Oddbody showed up to help us understand the mystery of how our past lives mattered. Would our friends and family have lived more tragic and unhappy lives without us? And if I don’t compare my life with anyone else’s is it as small, uninteresting and pointless as I think? 

Why bother to watch a good old Christmas movie? It might remind us that like George, if we can be content with our life, we’ll see the success of our life. And that is really wonderful.