Monday, December 5, 2011

Screw the Shopping...Give me Christ

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas each year. I absolutely love the trappings of celebrating Christ's birth that manifest in sights, sounds and smells all associated with this grand holiday. The Christmas music airing 24/7 over the local radio station adds considerably to the feeling of peace, contentment and anticipation. The decorations come out and get hung around the house, contributing to a sense of serenity in the home, anticipating a peaceful time reflecting on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, when God chose to "pitch his tent" among us. When the Texas weather finally starts to cool down, the sweaters can come out of storage and help us cozy up on the sofa with hot cocoa and peppermint candies. It's a joy to get wrapped up (pun intended) in the Christmas "spirit," telling people, "Merry Christmas," as you come upon them is my goings about. I love side of Christmas that is a celebration.

I hate the side of Christmas that is consumerism. Basically, it's that time of year when the shame of having so little extra money beyond that amount necessary to cover daily necessities becomes particularly acute. Black Friday is of no consequence. Holiday deals must be ignored. Any trip to the mall is mainly to simply "people watch." Seemingly all Christmas films highlight the presents purchased for the occasion ("You'll shoot your eye out!"). The great hope is that relatives send gift checks that the parents can use shop for the kids, because nothing in the household budget allows for that activity. The question from friends, "What did you get you kids for Christmas?" are awkward, and sometimes skillfully, avoided. The spend-fest serves as an annual thermometer revealing the low "temperatures" in the bank account, driving family members to think more "deeply" about the "true meaning of Christmas" (as though this could not also be accomplished while simultaneously striking the mother load).

I'd love to split this holiday into two separate events: one that celebrates the birth of Christ and another that brings retailers "into the black" each year. The evolution of how these two very divergent concepts came to be intertwined must be interesting to study. Nevertheless, I wish they could be separated. The shopping frenzy be damned, I'm still going to try to "get into the Christmas spirit."

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