What is our holiday message?
If I buy you a gift, I love you. The more expensive the gift, the more I love you. And if you buy me a pricey gift, that means you love me. This is dangerous, appalling and just not true.
This brings me to my broader topic: Happy endings.
Christmas has become retail's way to manipulate us toward a fake "happy ending." All those commercials with glowing faces, jingling bells...and of course, lots of shopping. Every single one of them gliding us to that magical morning when we bestow our gifts and get the love we crave.
Or, we open our gifts and realize that the spouse who treats us like dirt the rest of the year actually loves us because they've purchased a big-screen tv for the bedroom. Now, we can numb ourselves in a large way. Problems solved.
But happy endings don't last. How can they? We don't freeze in time...We don't stop existing just because we've gotten the moment we were promised. The only true "end" comes when we die. So building our hopes around a "happy ending" (a wedding is another good example) can only lead to an emotional letdown. What goes up must eventually plummet. Television and the media revel in the "coming down" as well. All you have to do is watch reality tv, read a magazine or catch the evening news.
The problem is that we're raised to think we can only be happy if someone else loves us.
It's the Cinderella complex, and hey - it's in every romantic comedy (and yes, I watch them too.) No matter how messed up the couple is, they find their way into each others' arms. Sorry, but that's not going to happen in real life, folks. And if it does, it won't last - because people revert to their true selves.
Ironically, a movie I hated - The Break-Up - is more realistic. The couple breaks up (as promised), and they take time to work on themselves. They run into each other in the end. Will they get back together? We don't know. That's where we're left. I like that, in retrospect. At the time I saw it, I'd just broken up with a boyfriend. I sobbed through the whole thing. I didn't think I could be happy without a man. I felt cheated because the couple in the movie did actually "break up" without magically working things out.
We can love people. We can miss them. We can grieve for them. But ultimately, we cannot let them control us. We need to seek inner happiness. If we love ourselves, we are never alone. We are our own best friends.
Now that's a happy ending.