Wow! I cannot believe that it’s already December! It seems like just yesterday that it was my birthday (August), or the beginning of summer. It even seems weird that it’s already a year since last Christmas. And, of course, with the arrival of December comes what people still insist on calling the “holiday season.” Although I am seeing less and less evidence of “holiday spirit.” I work in retail, right? So I see greed pretty much every day. People coming and spending anywhere from $100 to $1,000 on things that they definitely do not need. They come in and say “Oh man, I really need to change the decor in my house!” Then they proceed to drop more money that I’ve ever seen at one time on frivolous and unnecessary things that they’ll probably just change out next year anyway. And don’t even get me started on Black Friday!
This year on Black Friday, stores were competing not only for the best deals, but with the earliest opening. One store actually even opened Thanksgiving night at 9pm to beat other retailers in the area that opened at midnight. There were even reports of people taking pepper spray or tasers shopping with them to use on other shoppers who might have gotten the item that they themselves wanted. I feel like consumerism and greed has gotten to a pretty ridiculous level at this point. There are people in other countries dying of curable diseases, and we are fighting one another for the newest Xbox.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy giving gifts! In fact, I have been known to spend way too much money on getting the perfect gift for someone I care about. But, I feel like somehow we have lost the true – forgive me – “reason for the season” in the haste and selfish pursuit of materialistic bribes for love. Despite the economic state of our country these days, this year’s Black Friday profits were a record-high!
So, in an attempt to harbor genuine Christmas “spirit,” our house is trying something a little different this year. Every year we try to do something creative in the area of gift-giving because there are a lot of us and not a lot of money going around. But this year, we’re trying something entirely different. Those of you familiar with the common gift-exchange game “Secret Santa” will get the general concept of what we are calling “Secret Saints.” Instead of drawing names and getting gifts for the recipient on the piece paper, we are comitting to praying for that person daily during the month of December, seeking ways to bless them, and being creative in what to give them on Christmas Day.
I don’t know why Christmas has lost its way. I guess it’s just been a gradual journey from its origins of celebration of and caring for one another and Christ’s presence in our lives, to what it has become: a totally commercialized, consumer-focused, selfish celebration of materialism. It buys into the money-can-buy-you-love concept of living, and encourages us to manipulate those around us to get us what we want. And we, as followers of Christ, have bought into it as much as the rest of the world! Brothers and sisters, this should not be! Can we get it back to the way it is supposed to be? Even if it’s not entirely a “Christian” holiday as it used to be, can we not begin to celebrate it in such a way as to remind each other why we began to celebrate it in the first place? What would happen if every one of us this year decided to forgo the usual mad shopping, and instead just saught ways to bless and encourage each other? What if every follower of Christ made an attempt to “do Christmas” differently this year? Be creative! Christmas is not and shouldn’t be about what we can get, whether for ourselves or one another, it should be about the memories we make and the lives we change! What if instead of buying presents, you use the money you would normally put towards gifts into giving a child in a developing nation the chance to celebrate Christmas? What if you spend Christmas Day at a homeless shelter instead of feasting on turkey and roast beast? What if you get everyone in your family to spend time praying for our country and its leadership, instead of spending hours at the mall? I just have to believe that this is more what Christ would have in mind as a celebration of His birth. Last time I checked, He exhorted us to sell all our possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow Him. I’m just sayin.
For those of you wondering where and when “care bear pie” is going to make it into this blog… it’s not. It’s a joke amongst my household, so it’s in the title more for the implication of commarodery than anything else.
I’m sure that someone, somewhere always writes things like this around Christmas-time, and I’m sure that they will continue to….. unless we can make a change this holiday-season. Unless we can make a difference this year in how we celebrate the holidays. Whatever you celebrate or however you celebrate, there has to be a way to focus more on blessing one another than pepper-spraying each other out of the way as we shop…