By Jeni Grangaard
The world united around the news of the novel coronavirus of 2019. It captivated our headlines—and still does—even as 2021 comes to an end. We do hope that the news story is on its way out, but already we have another story to rally around.
Perhaps you have heard. There is an issue with the global supply chain.
Everyone is talking about the global supply chain. Here in the US, the port of Los Angeles is log-jammed. You can watch the ships lined up in Seattle. Expect delays, they say, and expect empty shelves. From the middle east to the far east, from up north to the global south, and from the midwest to the pacific northwest, a sense of scarcity is the byline underneath the headlines.
All of this is coming to a head in Quarter 4, the so-called game time and go time for businesses and people seeking to close their year deep in the black. Then again, forecasters are anticipating record growth. This is an equation of parts whose sum will be less than the whole: a formula leading to post-shopping delayed gratification. We will have purchased our gifts but we won’t be able to open them too. We will be empty-handed.
While news of scarcity might compel us to shop early and often to find the perfect gift, perhaps this season and the ongoing COVID season can allow us a pass from perfection and give us an invitation to abundance.
The question will remain: how can we live into the abundance of the season, rather than buy into the narratives and realities of scarcity?
Christmas is anything but scarce. It is the season of great abundance. This year we need to dwell in that abundance more than ever before. Christmas and other holy days are a time to gather, after we have had to refrain from gathering; a time to celebrate, after a time to mourn; a time to give, after a time to hoard.
We don’t want to come empty-handed. We also don’t want the effects of scarcity to become our story. Now as before, the best gift we can offer others is our time and our attention. Perhaps we can find a way to combine the material with the personal and our transactions with our intentions.
A fine line
Here are some ideas to help navigate the narrow margin between scarcity and abundance:
- Shop local and buy gifts that are already in the market
- Buy gift cards with a note promising to shop together
- Give a coupon for a future excursion or experience that you can share together
- Exchange used copies of your favorite books from the last year (or any year)
- Share your favorite recipes, meals, songs, movies and other meaningful masterpieces
About writing, Annie Dillard offers, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I think that’s true for the Christmas season too. The stories we hear may be that of scarcity, but let us not forget that to give and to receive are great ways for all of us to share joy and to live into the abundance of God’s love for us and the whole world. After all, our story is about the Word of God made flesh. To live in abundance is to live trusting that we are enough and we have something to offer those around us. We are never empty-handed.
About the author
Jeni Grangaard is the Seminary Pastor at Luther Seminary. Included on her favorite books to share list is Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and anything by Fredrik Backman.