Tuesday, November 23, 2010


1. overcome completely in mind or feeling

The time to get a stomach bug is not days before leaving to go out of town for Thanksgiving.  While there's never an ideal time to feel nauseous all day long, I would not have chosen to feel ill on a short school week - a week where I was hoping to cover some math with A, finish painting the dining room and complete preparations for going out of town.  But none of that has happened.  Instead, Monday morning found me with two children at home instead of the anticipated one.  B's stomach felt much like mine.  I knew things were bad for her when she made her normal breakfast of oatmeal, took two bites and said, "I can't eat this.  Can you throw it away?  The smell is making me sick."

I pushed through in the morning - running errands to buy envelopes for our Thanksgiving letter, buying more ink for the printer, etc.  But by afternoon I was spent.  So tired, in fact, that I did something I haven't done in several years:  I turned on the television at 4 in the afternoon on a school day.  Not for my children - for me.  I checked HGTV and the Food Network first - nothing interesting.  Then I remembered a post a friend recently wrote about Oprah.  I hadn't watched her show in years, but thought I would see the topic and whether it was something I could watch with A and B.  It said it was a show about Oprah's favorite things.  Sounded safe enough.

I tuned in and at first, B glanced up at the TV, then went back to her book.  After the audience started screaming when the first gift was revealed, B said, "What's this show?  It doesn't make any sense."  I explained that Oprah was giving the audience members her favorite things - starting with an iPad and ending with a VW Beetle, with lots and lots of stuff in between.  People in the audience were going crazy.  Screaming, crying, hugging each other, you name it.

As A watched, she said, "Is she just showing off or what?"  At first I thought she meant an audience member, but then I realized she was talking about Oprah.  B, who thought it would be awesome to be one of those audience members, was quick to defend her as generous.  But I thought A raised an interesting point.  It was all very conspicuous.  Do we like gifts best when we feel the giver is aiming for our thanks - not our delight?  Doesn't Jesus encourage - command us, even - to pray in secret rather than publicly so that we will pray for God, not men?  A, B and I talked about these things.  But we kept watching while we talked.  We watched people jump up and down, we watched Oprah play the audience and we noticed that while she was very publicly raining gifts down on these people who are strangers to her, it wasn't actually her generosity on display.  She was sure to give credit to each company that donated her favorite things.  Is this really generosity or is A right that it's showing off?

In this, as in many things, there are no hard and fast answers.  We did watch the show - we didn't turn it off in protest of the rampant consumerism and borderline greed.  There were surely people in that audience who left feeling incredibly blessed.  But as I watched, I found myself grateful to not be in that audience.  In part, I kept thinking about what a headache I would have if I were in that studio with people screaming all around me.  And I wondered what my own reaction would be.  Would I scream?  Cry?  Dance around?  Probably not.

I remember A's second Christmas - she has a January birthday, so she was nearly two.  We were at J's parents' house and had only opened a few gifts when A announced that she wanted to take a nap.  Knowing her own limits and feeling completely overwhelmed by all that was occurring around her, she simply decided a nap was the best choice.  That's how the TV show made me feel yesterday - totally overwhelmed and ready for a nap.

But it also made me thankful for daughters who see things a bit more critically than I would anticipate.  Daughters who don't take everything at face value.  If they can watch a stranger on TV give things away and wonder about their motivations, I can hope that discernment will serve them well in years to come.

1 comment:

The Mom said...

You are a wise woman who is raising young women who will emulate that same wisdom...it is far more priceless than knowledge. I will pray for a speedy recovery with all that you have going on!