Each year I see more and more folks tire of the consumerism Christmas has become. They long for less, which ironically I feel is something way more fulfilling than drowning in material gift giving and debt.
In past years, I have struggled with the sheer act of celebration. Decorating the tree has become a chore and sadly, I do it alone. I attempt to lighten the mood and correct my frame of mind with Christmas music. I bake cookies, make fudge and check off the list of things to be completed or purchased.
It is not until I pull out my Nativity that I realize why I should be so thankful and happy to honor the greatest gift ever given. Christmas truly is a time for joy. Receiving and giving gifts, a blessing.
THE CHRISTMAS OF TODAY
Red, white and green, over-the-top Christmas trees. Black Friday sales galore. Parents battle it out in stores for the one hot item every child in America must have. Tantrums are thrown when our son’s or daughter’s gift wishes go unfulfilled. Santa is simply a filler of lists. He is no longer Saint Nicholas, the patron of children.
Commercials tout cars given as gifts as if they are a realistic and accepted occurrence to holiday gift giving. Lights, tinsel, big red bows; Christ, is decreasingly the focus of our Christmas celebration.
The act of giving has turned into the act of purchasing a checklist full of items expected to be received. They want, we give, and then we do it all over again the next year. This, my dear friends, is what our country and Christmas has come to.
I do understand a good sales pitch and the financial reasoning behind capturing a sale in today’s consumer market. Saving money, making money, keeping the economy flowing and expectations running high. This is just one small part of what has driven Christmas so far off track.
It has become less of a religious celebration and more of a holiday to shop for pulse stirring gifts. How better to target sales than to include everyone? Even if it comes at the cost of diluting the meaning of what Christmas is all about.
LET US CHANGE CHRISTMAS
Gift giving is not about volume. It’s not about what is popular (Christ could attest to this) or what rounds out your collection of “wants” versus “needs”. Gift giving is about love. That’s right…LOVE. Love for our brother, aka, all of humanity. After all, Christmas only exists because of Christ and His ultimate gift or rather His sacrifice for us.
Giving from the heart can reflect love in much the same manner as Christ. Ask yourself, what in your life has ever felt better than someone coming to your rescue in a time of real need? This is what Christmas is missing, more rescuers. Not just that, but a simple attention to family and the act of sacrificing our own “wants” to provide someone else’s “needs”.
Religious beliefs aside, there is something to be said for being better off and yet sometimes, its not good. I’m not talking about Warren Buffet “better off” or even being blue collar “better off”. By in large, America in general has an ease in living which is far more convenient than most countries. Yes, we do see true poverty on our soil, but should we?
Poverty in America simply shouldn’t exist. Yes, it should NOT exist. How many of us have more than we need? Running water? Heat? An extra bedroom? Food going to waste in the refrigerator? Shoes to accent every outfit in an ample closet overflowing with clothes? Excess.
We surround ourselves with…stuff. We always aim for more…stuff. We define our success with…you guessed it, stuff. We teach our children to desire…stuff. And, the worst part? It’s all stuff we “want” and not stuff we actually “need”. Do we really need more stuff?
THE CHRISTMAS OF TOMORROW
I have seen families dialing back and scaling down the holiday to capture a better sense of what Christmas means. Some of us are starting to understand that receiving isn’t nearly as pleasing to our hearts than the act of giving. And, who better to give to than someone in need?
No matter what type of religious beliefs you adhere to, need is universal. Whether you gift food, clothing, money or a simple hug; just make sure it comes from the heart. A true gift, is pure in it’s thought and it’s function. It is not given because it is expected or meets a budgeted dollar amount.
This year, our family has decided to focus on a theme. The intent is to not only reduce our desire for receiving gifts but to encourage family togetherness. Each of us will contribute to Christmas by buying a movie and snacks for our family. Beyond a filled stocking, time spent with each other during movie night will be the greatest gift.
Throughout the year, not just at Christmas, we will continue to keep the welfare and needs of others at the forefront. Giving, helping, encouraging and loving, those are the things we should do daily.
My greatest hope is that we will all teach our children the value of giving. That sometimes, having more is meaningless while the greatest value is found in the act of giving.