Tuesday, January 3, 2012

That Must-have Gift

I expected to be back to the 9 to 5 today, but my son Gabe has the dreaded strep throat.  Yuck!  Yep, after a trip to the Dr. this AM it was confirmed.  After getting a prescription filled and some lunch in him he's now fast asleep.

Now I sit looking at the boxes and containers that hold the packed up Christmas decorations.  They're all ready for the trek back up into the attic to store for another 12 months.

This year's holiday season was a little weird for me.  I never seemed to get into the spirit the way I initially intended to.  It all came and went too fast!  The consumerism and commercialization of it all is crazy and sadly it seems to get worse with each passing year.  This year especially there's been so much talk about the economy and the bottom line for all the retail giants.  Then there's the stories of people acting violently against one another in order to gain access to a special sale or item.  I wonder what drives people to trample small children just to get their child that must-have gift?

There's the whole War on Christmas thing, that now flares up every year.  Now I personally don't believe for a minute that there's a politically motivated ideological effort on the part of anyone person or the government to wipe-out traditions or keep anyone from saying, 'Merry Christmas', to me it's very simple.  There definitely is something attacking Christmas with Scrooge-like efficiency.

'Greed is good' and it's killing Christmas.  

No one seems to want to discuss how the Christmas season, that begins essentially on October 31st, is nothing more than a consumer driven extravaganza with one focus and one focus alone; to make certain we finish the year in the black.  Why else would the day after Thanksgiving be called, 'black Friday'?

I didn't get my limited gift shopping done until the Friday before and while I was doing it, amidst the crazy traffic congestion of impolite drivers and multitude of robotic uninspired shoppers, I kept asking myself, what's the point of it all?  Don't get me wrong, I think giving gifts is a wonderful part of Christmas, but when the gift giving becomes nothing more than a meaningless form of drudgery in which we're somehow just expected to fall into because it's some sort of American economic exceptionalism trait, then that, for me is not Christmas.  Might be for some, but not me.  So, it was troubling to me that I wasn't able to get into the true spirit of Christmas the way I wanted to.  Sadly, the more I tried to motivate myself the worse it seemed to get.  That was until I focused on someone other than myself and began to notice how my son marveled at all the various sights and sounds of the holiday around him.  

Back on December 18th, we were invited to attend a small rural church Christmas service (Ledbetter Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Meherrin, VA).  It wasn't anything fancy, just the traditional re-telling of the Christmas narrative and an inspired choir followed by a good old-fashioned, down home Sunday go to Grandma's type of fellowship meal.  Gabe ooohed and awwed at the tiny church alter complete with decorative nativity scene animals cut-outs and the decked out fellowship hall Christmas tree.  Since then he's been so excited to see our tree at home light up every day and to gaze out the window at the neighbors lawn decorations of Santa, to which he give's a cute, 'ho...ho...' whenever he's asked about it.  He's also been able to spend time with family and that to has been great to see.  Seeing Gabe's innocence and his true amazement at the things around him is such a blessing to behold.  It's been a true gift of Christmas to me.  This morning he paused perplexed in the living room at the sight of the filled boxes and noticeable removal of the tree.  I wondered this morning what he must be thinking about as his Christmas world is being put away for only the second time in his young life. 

So, now as I said, the boxes are ready to make their way back to the attic and Christmas 2011 becomes a memory I hope to build on them.  I will commit to work toward a 2012 that's less focused on myself and more focused on the plight and suffering of those less fortunate individuals within my midst.  I already have some ideas of how to start the trek toward Christmas 2012 in a very different way than this past year.

I challenge you to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas every day!  
I think it's up to us as individuals, however we celebrate Christmas, to make it a more meaningful time in our lives and seriously work on quelling that consumerist tendency for over indulgence to acquire an abundance of stuff that in the long run is not what a child's birth in very tenuous circumstances over 2000 years ago was all about.  That child's birth is the only must-have gift I know of that I want for my son.  I feel confident he received it.  Did you?

Peace be with you and Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. I love the excitement of Christmas - the celebration of Jesus' birth. I detest the commercialism & consumerism into which Christmas has evolved. True gifts are those that are given from the heart & received by the heart. Many celebrate Christmas but few keep the Christ in Christmas - it appears to be an excuse or obligation to give / receive gifts. It would be my desire to challenge retailers to put more focus on Christ & less on money. I'm not going to hold my breath on that one!