Loads of Love

Recently this Ariel laundry soap ad, titled #sharetheload , from India crossed my desk (thanks, D!) and brought a little tear to my eye.

The touching story of a father who learns–not too late–the importance of balancing the second shift at home is more than just bubbly suds.  When women entered the workforce, the talk was all about being able to bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan AND of course cater to your mates masculinity.  After years of all y’all trying to have it all, it’s time to concede:  work-life balance is a struggle if the partnership follows the plotline of Leave it to Beaver or today’s patch of modern sitcoms with dope dads and super moms.

The Don Draper uber-masculine scotch drinking dad of yesteryear is dead.  Cold distant dads are out.  Today with a wide variety of family structures and work commitments, the old school gender-role  driven division of labor is giving way to more balanced homes.  What’s more, sharing chores with your mate is good for more than clean laundry.  Here sociologist Michael Kimmel talks about the many benefits shared home-work.

So don’t wait till you’re a silver fox to pitch in at home.  Who knows, dinner might not be the only thing you get cooking!

Your First Holiday Gift is Here!

With the end of Halloween starts that most intimate of season–the shopping season.  Ahh, a time to curl up with a warm credit card, surround yourself with brand name goods, and share with your loved ones that most important of human emotions–the joy of opening a gift from the Apple store.

Let the onslaught of advertising begin!  Deck the halls with piles of flyers selling disposable goods made unethically! Don you now an extra fifteen pounds from the constant push of candy and comfort foods! And rest you merry gentleman on the bench at the mall!

Lest you forget the real meaning of the season, I remind you that the period of time from Thanksgiving to Christmas is the most important time for retailers to turn slow summer sales into bottom line black ink magic.  While people from both left and right fight for a less commercial Christmas season, the battle is not with bah-humbug atheists, but with bless-us-every-one businesses whose profit is tied up inextricably with your desire to give and receive love through the proxy of consumer goods.  Do you really think they are going to abdicate profit to your childhood nostalgia?  Not likely.

This graph shows retail sales by month from 2003-2011, showing the majority of retail sales come between October and December.

If you think those decrying to direct connection between family, feelings, and black Friday are forcing it, take a look at this ad from Best Buy, the first Christmas ad to air nationwide.

The ad, entitled “Win the Holidays”  starts the season like the opening of a competition.  we are thinking or feeling, but competing to kill it this Christmas.  Don’t forget, its not just a gift, it is the key to love, as the ad explicitly reminds us.

So I give to you your first gift of the holiday season: freedom from the big lie of a consumer driven holiday season.  iPads and bags from Macy’s and the right flaky biscuits and a beautiful sparkly rock are not love.  Buying gifts for the holidays will not make your family happier beyond the morning of when they rip open gifts like wolves.

Believing that your love and relationships are paid for in black Friday lines or wrapped in Amazon boxes is a lie we choose to buy into when we are crushed beneath a tsunami of ads full of hugging families.  I free you from believing this.  I assure you that nagging feeling that you have that none of this shopping will deliver the promised intimacy is right;  That suspicion that you will be equally happy hanging out and saving your money for snacks and warm blankies for cuddling in is confirmed.  I gift you this reminder that the magic of the season comes from inside you, not inside a plastic shopping bag.