We need more than anti-consumerism for a healthy Christian holiday.
Three years ago, my husband and I decided that we would no longer travel for Christmas. Our parents, all of them living in the Midwest, were devastated. When we’d moved to Toronto from Chicago, the terms were clear: If we were moving the grandchildren across an international border, we were responsible to bring them home for the holidays. But where was home? Even if our passports declared us strangers, our house in Toronto had begun to feel more like home than the one we had left behind—the one we actually owned.
I’ll be home for Christmas, we sing. And it’s for good reason that Christmas lures us home. As I can attest, waking up in a hotel on Christmas morning and shuffling to the lobby for your first cup of hot coffee does a number on the holiday spirit.
What makes a home a home, then?
For the past several years, IKEA representatives have traveled across the globe to ask people about their domestic experiences and expectations. In 2016, they visited 12 cities and interviewed 12,000 people; in 2017, they traveled to 22 countries, surveying more than 22,000 people. In the first survey, respondents concluded that a home was composed of four intangibles: comfort, safety, belonging, and love.
Even if IKEA’s findings (detailed in their annual Life at Home reports) primarily aim to sell us more furniture, lamps, and posters of Paris, they tell us something about the fundamental human longing for home. For Christians, they also illuminate this surprising truth: Neither consumerism nor anti-consumerism defines a true home.
Roy Langmaid, a psychologist cited in the 2017 IKEA Life at Home Report, talks about home as moderns have come to think of it—as the expression of personal identity. Identity is …