We're Here to Help

by Sheila Millar

Deciding to be well ahead last year, I went Christmas shopping early. As I spent time on the busy streets of London, I became very aware of all the help which many shops wanted to give me in MY Christmas shopping. I am often amused by the eye-catching slogans which advertisers use to catch my attention. What better time of year to see how advertising is used within the retail world than this busy shopping season?

"For the Man..."

A popular advert is the phrase "For the man who's got everything." What an untrue phrase for no one can ever have all and not still want more. We are never satisfied with what we have, and advertising is often the media used to increase our knowledge of what else we could buy. Maybe Christmas is a time to reflect on things beyond material assets like being thankful for health, for loved ones, for happy memories, for the possibility of knowing peace in our time.

"The Perfect Gift!"

"The perfect gift!" How do they know? The advertisers do not know the likes and dislikes of the person whom I'm buying for. They know that their product will sell and be a successful money-making venture.... if that is what they mean by "perfect" then maybe that is okay! But I suppose I can not be too cynical, for saying something like "This would do!" is hardly going to boost sales. The item may not be perfect but maybe the perfection of the gift comes when it is purchased with the heart that knows the receiver will delight in the gift.

"It's You!"

I think my favourite slogan this year has to be "It's you!" If I'd responded to that phrase every time I saw it, I'd be broke, look ridiculous and no one else would be receiving any gifts from me! There is the tendancy for advertising to enhance a sense of discontent not only with what we have but with what we are. If we are not the most fashion-conscious person or have the latest gadget, we often strive until we can have those things. What a relief to know that we are each created as special individuals and can therefore simply live out the life that we have been given by our Creator.

I remember sitting down exhausted at the end of my shopping day - but very satisfied. It wasn't only because I had accomplished what I set out to do (...and all in a day!) but because the presents I had bought, were ones which I felt were "perfect" for my people. Christmas is a wonderful time of year. I doubt very much if advertisers ever really capture the true meaning of Christmas in their adverts. Maybe they are not the ones to blame. We as consumers so easily fall into that trap of buying something, almost anything, just to have a present to give. Let's not be persuaded by catchy slogans or the lie that we need to have all that is out there on the market. Let's search for the true meaning of Christmas every day of the year which has always been "giving" but giving from the heart.

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