The following post is originally from the blog of Jen Hatmaker and was posted on November 29, 2011. Jen is an author of books and Bible studies and also speaks at retreats and conferences around the country. Jen and her husband, Brandon, reside in Austin, Texas with their children. You can read her full post here.
When I was in sixth grade, I received two Christmas presents I distinctly remember:
1.) The most coveted, desired beautiful “Forenza” tag on a pair of black leggings with a corresponding purple and black plaid shirt. (The outfit could’ve been anything, as long as it was from The Limited. Outback Red, anyone? Omg. If I could’ve conjured riches back then, I would’ve spent every red cent on OBR.)
2.) A fun, quirky red “football jersey type” sweatshirt.
I loved them both. Loved, loved, loved. I was certain these gifts were my ticket out of Dorkville. The feathered, product-less boy haircut and Bargain Selection glasses would become moot in light of my new, stylish garb. The popular kids would wonder what they ever didn’t see in me. The cute boys I pined over would fight over inviting me to Sadie Hawkins, and they would say things like, “Why haven’t we noticed her before? We’re like Saul after the scales fell from his eyes.” Or at least something very, very similar to that.
Until one very unfortunate eavesdropping session.
Supposed to be in bed but creeping in the hall listening to my parents’ conversation which simply seemed like a naughty, awesome thing to do, I heard my mom say this:
“Her red sweatshirt? I found it at Walmart for $3.00.”
And just like that, the sweatshirt was ruined. In front of my eyes, it lost all its charm and it simply became something a Walmart girl would wear because she couldn’t afford Esprit and her mother refused to buy her Guess jeans. All of a sudden, it communicated: I’m poor. (I was in sixth grade, people. It was a very dramatic time.)
Here’s why I tell you about my persecutions: That is the only thing I remember from Christmas 1985. Not Jesus. Not reverence. Not generosity. Not gratitude. Just a selfish, materialistic reaction because every single gift of mine wasn’t from an overpriced store with a namebrand I could casually brag about wearing. What a brat.