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Our Winter Search for Meaning

What we did when Amazon Prime became our god

Illustration of two dogs roping the north star

Bring Your the North Star by Kritsiana Pärn

Several years ago, my family and I changed up our holiday ritual. For years the busy-ness of the season had been ratcheting up to increasingly unworkable heights. The holidays had come to mean unmitigated stress and overload in the form of last-minute shopping for gifts no one needed, convoluted travel plans, and weeks of gluttony. The clincher came one day as I was driving my three kids to school, and my older daughter said, apropos of nothing, “Christmas doesn’t really mean anything.” She was right. For one thing, my husband, raised Jewish, and I, brought up Presbyterian, were raising our three kids without religion. They had never attended midnight Mass, acted in a Christmas pageant, or recited the Hanukah prayer while lighting the menorah. Of course the holiday season carried no religious significance for them. But my husband and I had failed to supply any alternative to fill that spiritual vacuum. And so the hole had been filled for us—with Barbies, Shopkins, and Minecraft figurines. Each December, Amazon Prime became our God. The year my daughter pronounced Christmas meaningless, we’d move …

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