12/10/13

The Reason for the Season . . .

When was it decided that the reason for Christmas was GIFTS?

I don't mean that in some overly cynical "the spirit has given way to secularism" way . . . I mean it in a very true and simple way. When did that become the thing?

It has been a while since I was in a Catholic Church on Christmas Even (2008, I think?) but I don't remember any more than three gifts being given to the guy we are celebrating the birth of that fateful Bethlehem night. And those were gifts FOR HIM. No one brought anything (correct me if I am wrong, New Testament Scholars) to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the postman, the nice woman at the receptionist desk, the vendors who sold the hay for the manger, or the boss upstairs. And yet - 2013ish years later . . . here we are. GIFT CRAZY.

Don't believe me? Have a three minute or longer conversation with a casual acquaintance in the month of December. Know how long it takes for the question to be asked "You get your holiday shopping done yet?" 0:42 seconds. That is an actual average time in five conversations I had this last week to test the theory. LESS THAN A MINUTE. Because that is what we think about this time of year. Gifts. Wrapping Paper. Scotch Tape. Gift Cards. Gift Receipts. Gift Exchanges. Gift Idea Lists. Gifts. GIFTS. GIFTS!!!

I know people that actually give gifts to people SIMPLY BECAUSE they know they are going to get one FROM that other person. WHAT?! Is that a real thing?! What if the other person is thinking the same. exact. thing? How about THIS for a gift "Hey, uh, Tammy (her name is Tammy in my head) . . . How about instead of giving each other gifts this year we just exchange a hug, a warm word of thanks and mutual appreciation, and a mug of tea?" Would that be nice? "Yes. Yes it would." (Tammy likes this idea very much.)

I had written this long post about how we were setting our kids up for heartache and disaster with the way we deluge them with Christmas gifts but I scrapped that post (I feared push back - long story) so I'll stick with adult-on-adult gifting instead and simply say that this whole thing has become CRAZY.

Let's stop. Let's slow down. Let's step back and just hang out the weekend of Thanksgiving. Let's have less obligatory office holiday parties. Let's stop with the "bigger and better than last year" battle cries for social activities and markings on the calendar. Let's stop with the show and spectacle. Because it is not needed and it is not even all that sincere for most people . . . it is obligation.

Let's be more genuine. Let's try to bake more cookies, sing more songs, break more bread, drink more good tea/wine/cocoa/goat's blood. Let's try to pretend that society's momentum does not tell us what to do - WE tell us what to do ("We run things, things don't run we." - M. Cyrus). Let's try to actually reclaim some sanity in the month of December and save some time, effort, and energy for things that really need our focus . . . family, friends, and faith - NONE of which need our money or loads of gifts to be nourished and fulfilled.