Purge the urge to splurge. With Thanksgiving only days away, and Christmas looming just beyond the nervous gobbler’s neck, now is the time to plan.

Push away, rather than shoveling in. Lighten up, rather than pigging out. Carve off, rather than scarfing down.

Before you run to the South Beach Diet or run from the scale, let me weigh in on a related topic that won’t spoil your dinner but might alter your appetite. Americans are grossly overweight because we consume too many calories. But this is only a piece of the consumption problem.

Consumerism consumes comsumers. Excessive consumption costs us dearly. It robs us of the life that really is life.

Sunrises and sunsets are free. A little girl’s smile and a little boy’s smell can’t be bought. A love that takes your breath away can’t be purchased at the fragrance counter.

Advertising speeds up this time of year, cajoling cravings and pricking passions. Widget peddlers of every kind are out to get you. They want you to want what you do not have, especially what they want to sell you. They are not wicked by nature. Their prosperity, however, depends upon more than efficiently exchanging commodities in the marketplace. They need you to expand your wants by turning them into needs.

Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.

Allow the spirit of gratitude to defeat the demon of desire. Sing and dance to a tune played by the God who offers abundant life. Say grace over simple graces.

Before you plunk down plastic at NorthPark, or lust after your neighbor’s Navigator, or ponder the perils of your perceived poverty, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Will the rush of a new purchase leave you more or less satisfied when the bills come due?
  • Are the Joneses really happier with more, better or different?
  • Is impulse shopping curing or causing the problem of your self-worth?
  • Can you give generously and save wisely while spending freely?
  • Do you only compare yourself to those who have more than you?

The early American furniture-making Christian communities called the Shakers gave us a lovely song to guide us: ‘Tis the gift to be simple,/ ‘Tis the gift to be free,/ ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,/ And when we find ourselves in the place just right./ ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.