I know you’re busy…strapped for time…frantic even, and I know the last thing you want to do is read the ramblings of a nobody like me, so I’ll make this as short as possible.
Hey! It’s Christmastime! Yes, it’s that time of year when we focus on peace and family, and when we calmly reflect upon the true meaning of the season. It’s also that time of year when we, hopefully, put a little extra effort into helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Right? Maaaybe – if you’re living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Unfortunately, our modern Christmases have become just the opposite of what they should be. Instead of bringing “tidings of comfort and joy,” Christmas now brings pointless competition and frenetic consumerism. (Even before the first of December, banks were advertising “Christmas loans now available!” Yes, even Santa is apparently working to build up his bottom line.)
I know there are countless blog posts bemoaning the consumerism of Christmas, but this year, I’ve been making a concerted effort to avoid the madness of the annual consumermas-yulepaytide and just wanted to share with you the three things I’m trying to remember this year. Here, in reverse order, are my three suggestions for creating your own yuletide bubble.
Number 3: Remember Christmas IS NOT a Competition
Despite the onslaught of aggressive advertising enticing us to spend more money (money that some of us don’t actually have) and regardless of the endless social media posts displaying perfectly decorated homes and Christmas trees sheltering numerous exquisitely wrapped presents, Christmas should not be a competition, yet so many of us get caught up in the self-destructive, unwinnable game of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Nothing can zap your Christmas joy quicker than being confronted with a photo of your friends’ perfectly iced Christmas cookies as you stare at your own failed attempts at Christmas baking. My suggestion to help get off the comparison merry-go-round is to limit social media intake and to remember not everything online is always as it seems.
Do not compare your Christmas to anyone else’s, you aren’t them, and they aren’t you. We should celebrate Christmas at our own pace, keeping our own traditions, free from guilt and comparison. Also remember, though I know it’s hard, our children do not need a million and one presents under the tree. Parents should not be shamed into lavishing stupid amounts of garbage toys upon their children just because “so and so” down the road is doing it. In my humble opinion, Christmas is the time where quality should prevail over quantity, and it’s a great time to teach our children that Christmas is not about the number of presents under the tree. I’m not suggesting we make our children feel bad for being excited about their presents, but what better time than the season of giving to start instilling the concept of helping others and showing them how to go about doing so.
Number 2: Stay Out of the Stores
Before you scoff, let me explain. This is a new one for me this year, but I suppose really it should just be common sense. If you’re trying to avoid getting sucked into the overspending-competition mode, then stay away from those places where it runs rampant. Regretfully, I took a brief trip to the mall over the weekend and it was rife with that frenetic energy created as stressed out people desperately agonize over finding the perfect gift – that negative “gotta buy…buy…buy” energy is catching. Stay away! If you know what you need, select one day and get it done and don’t go back until after the holiday madness. OR, even better, shop online if you are able to do so (if you can figure out a way to stop thieves from stealing packages off your front door step – ’tis the season!).
Number 1: Remember Who & Why We are Celebrating
I’m sure you knew this was coming. If you’re not a Christian, my number one suggestion won’t mean anything to you (Side note – that may sound like a stupid statement, but yesterday, I read a post about an atheist and her Christmas tree, so….), but I am trying to keep my focus on Jesus this season; I’m not always successful, but I’m getting there. I am trying to remember that the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace whose first place of rest was a simple manger in a lowly stable – should not be associated with emotional, mental, physical, and financial exhaustion.
To date, I haven’t found anything that stresses the point I’m clumsily trying to make quite as eloquently as the Christmas Eve sermon from The Bishop’s Wife (1947). It’s surprising that one of the best summations of how we should spend Christmas comes from a Hollywood movie, but, there you go. Like many other online folks, I have quoted this sermon before, but I’m going to do it again:
“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.
Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts. But especially with gifts.
You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.
Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share: loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched-out hand of tolerance – all the shining gifts that make peace on Earth.”
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
Screenwriters: Robert E. Sherwood, Leonardo Bercovici
Excerpt taken from: https://www.filmsite.org/bestspeeches10.html
I wish you and yours a peaceful and joyous Christmas.