Saturday, December 01, 2007

Light of the World?

"I am so tired of Christmas music, already," a cashier announced to me recently. With Thanksgiving falling early, America's "Christmas Season" is well under way. "Do you like Christmas in general?" I asked her. "Oh yeah. I just don't like the music. But I love getting stuff for my kids and watching them open their presents... I love Christmas," she said.

Is that what Christmas is about, the presents? Deb and I haven't got out our 'Christmas stuff' boxes yet; our halls are soberly undecked. Unlike most our neighbors we decided to conservatively wait to put up lights until December had actually begun. Each of us has done considerable shopping, though - is this what it really means for an American to get into the Christmas spirit? We are nothing if not shoppers, customers, consumers. And the stack of catalogs and ads in the recycle bin grows higher.

Like so many things in life, though, I find this whole gift-giving aspect of Christmas holds both traps and opportunities. It tempts me to greed, discontent, frenzy, overspending ... but at the same time provides a chance to affirm and build relationships: saying thanks, I appreciate you, I want to bless you.

We have so much to be grateful for.


I Was Just Thinking.... said...

Yeah, it is for most - about shopping, buying, giving with anticipating acceptance by the gift chosen (is that too cynical?).
Our family tries to go against the tide buy celebrating Advent and giving gifts at Epiphany. But it's an uphill battle, against our culture. You'd think, like the weary cashier, our country you'd tire of the consumer-demand and say a collective NO to Target, Walmart, Macy's, etc.

Marti said...

Well, the way consumerism works I guess the way things are must be the way 'we' want them, eh?

Even being on my guard, I was still surprised at how many 'gift giving guides' had replaced the articles in my Sunday paper, this week.

Paul Merrill said...

I love what Andy & Donna have done this year - no gifts from/to anyone in their family!

I think they're going to replace the gifts experience with a fun family meal out, or something like that.

B.J. said...

I guess for me it has become more of enjoying a season for ritual and remembrance which I think we are wired for. It seems like the only time of year our culture gets ritual and tradition and unfortuately, like you said, it can get quickly wrapped up in consumerism. But other rituals can push back on that and help overshadow it. The last couple days Finn has really been into sitting at the piano and asking that I accompany him while he sings Christmas carols. I remember this was something our family enjoyed during this season. Somehow this and all the other small rituals from Christmas cookies to reading the same L'Engle book to squinting at the Christmas tree lights help me remember and love the incarnation more.