Friday, December 14

Turning Christmas Around

I love Christmas. A lot of times, I'm not even all of that bothered by the commercialism that has surrounded Christmas. Because while Christmas has in many ways become about stuff, for many (if not most) people it is still primarily about giving stuff rather than about receiving stuff.
Where I get bothered is when you come across things that make Christmas about me and the stuff I'm going to get, rather than about what I can do for others.
Last night on the news, I saw a story about the increasing use of Christmas gift registries. People are actually going to the store and putting together lists that say essentially "buy me this." The people they interviewed who liked the idea and used these registries all talked about how the registry helps them to make sure that they get the things they want for Christmas.
To me, that turns Christmas upside down. Christmas started because God gave humanity a gift, his son. Even for people who don't recognize a religious significance, Christmas is considered a "season of giving." At it's best, Christmas is a time when we do things for others. Giving to others, particularly the people we love, is at the heart of Christmas. Sure, I like getting Christmas presents, but that pales in comparison to how I feel when I give a present to someone else.
I don't think that commercialism, by itself, works against the idea and meaning of Christmas. There are all kinds of legitimate reasons to be against commercialism, but the idea that it is opposed to the idea of Christmas isn't one of them. I can still be more interested in doing things for others than for myself within the context of commercialism. To me, commercialism becomes a particular problem at Christmas when it turns Christmas into a time for me to get stuff rather than a time for me to do things for others.

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