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Thursday, November 22, 2012

How We Do Christmas

I don't know exactly when it started, this disgust I have for what Christmas has come to mean in our culture. But it's been recurring for a few years now, like that sinus infection some people get every year like clockwork. And it only grows stronger, year after year. It's definitely not the only reason the season can prove difficult for me, but it's up there.

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Somehow, Jesus came to Earth as a baby, born to save the world has become We "must" buy each other things (and for many, do a lot of unnecessary stuff). Ugh.

Now, I get that many do not believe in Christ's deity but still choose to celebrate the holiday in ways that are meaningful to them. Of course, that's their right, and on the face of it I have no problem with that. But when one holiday "starts" before one or two others have even occurred in the year, and when people in shopping centers get trampled on Black Friday...it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

Oh, and honestly, I'm not without any materialism--I can't say I haven't thought, on Christmas Days, "I hope I get a lot of really cool stuff." And, truth be told? There is some stuff I'd really like, though it's often way more expensive than any of my family can afford to spend on a present. ;)

But seriously? There's a lot of stuff I just plain don't need. I don't even use all the stuff I have. I need to get rid of a lot of stuff!

And the things I really want? Well, they tend to be things no one can buy.

For as long as I can remember, we've done wish lists in our family. But, of course, "If you could go back in time and prevent my most-cherished dreams from shattering, that'd be awesome!" is not something I write on mine. "Could you replace my depression/grief/loneliness with nothing-but-happiness, infuse energy, line up a life partner, increase professional satisfaction?" Yeah, I don't write any of that either. I don't even write world peace or an end to war, poverty, and devastation--as much as I would LOVE those! 'Cause  yeah, none of us can just magically give these things to each other.

Yeah, I know, this post is starting to sound like this song:



...but I wouldn't say that's a bad thing.

Fortunately I'm not alone in my family in feeling some of these things, and we've already started talking about scaling back, about including charities in our giving. I hope we make it a regular part of our holiday traditions.

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About a month ago, I discovered an Internet gem called A Christmas Letter From Jesus. Now, usually, contemporary people claiming to speak for God make me roll my eyes. But I have to admit I like this one. Here's an excerpt:
While I am grateful for expressing your concerns, I must admit I have some concerns of my own. Even if you choose to say “Merry Christmas” instead of "Happy Holidays", you weren’t honoring me back on the day after Thanksgiving when you knocked over the person in Wal-Mart trying to muscle your way to the front of the line. I know you didn’t see her; that’s my point. And yes, that was a very nice letter to the editor you wrote when the city removed the creche from the front of town hall. But do you really think you are keeping Me the reason for the season when you spend more money than King Herod ever thought about! Folks, you spend more than 250 billion dollars a year on Christmas!!! During a recession!!!!! You could provide clean water for the world for only 10 billion, and you’d still have 240,000,000,000 left for presents. That’s a lot of 0’s and a lot of presents.

Speaking of Herod, he killed a lot of kids hunting me down. Now I’m not trying to be rude, but you need to hear this. You kill me - me, the Son of Man - every time a child dies from a lack of clean water. When someone dies because they didn’t bother going to the hospital as they didn’t have any health insurance; well that was me who died. When you spend billions on yourself while I lack a crust of bread, how can you think even for a moment, that you are keeping me the reason for the season? Folks, it's about time you learned that I spend my time worrying about more than “holiday” trees and nomenclature.
You can read the entire letter here.

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How can we keep Christmas from getting so out of control every year? Is that even possible anymore? What if anything do you do to keep it in perspective in your life?

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