The Season...

I had originally published the following short essay about 2 years ago. At that time, we were more or less unaffected by the current economic downturn - at least to the degree we are experiencing it now. Because of this, I feel that the lesson contained in the piece below has become somewhat tempered. I don't think "we are as bad about this as we used to be," so to speak. Nonetheless, it still holds relevance for the 2009 Christmas season, as anyone who has participated in Christmas shopping of any kind will attest to. I hope you enjoy it:

Here we are ready to go into another Christmas holiday season. The lights are up, the decorations have been set out, and the caroling has begun. The problem is, no one is listening. We are all out shopping – running from store to store and mall to mall. We are extremely concerned about what we will get Uncle so-and-so, or our spouse, or our kids… or even what we will receive ourselves. But what about Christmas? Not the season for consumerism in America (if it weren’t for Thanksgiving our country would begin advertising in August) – but what about the actual meaning behind it?

Many would say the meaning of Christmas is gift giving. Our children would say it’s about Santa, or getting the perfect remote control car, or setting up a tree; but mainly about presents. And who could blame them? They have eyes, they watch mommy and daddy drop hundreds of dollars at the mall.

Many would say the meaning of Christmas is family. The fact remains that Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year in our country. Air travel, car travel, gas prices, money, and least of all trying to find a way to get everyone together in one place at one time….. and then to get along! But who doesn’t want their children to remember their first couple of Christmas’ as being surrounded by relatives and good food! This is what I distinctly remember as a young boy.

Some would say the meaning of Christmas is all of the above rolled into one, and certainly this isn’t far from the truth. But I seem to remember one more thing. It seemed to involve a woman named Mary, and a manger, and something about a savior-born-as-child. I believe there were wise men, and a large star in the sky, and a good deal about reverence and holiness. Or was this just a nice fairy tale?

In fact, the reason for the Christmas season is Jesus Christ (Christ-mas). It is the celebration of the birthday of the most important person in all of creation. It is about giving, but not presents. It is about family, but not just a gathering. It is a remembering of the all-important gift of God to humankind. It is interesting not that Americans celebrate it, but HOW we celebrate it. Did I get what I wanted….. did he/she get what she wanted…. have we saved enough money to meet these demands….. were there enough Tickle-Me-Elmos to go around, or will there be mothers fighting in the isles of department stores…..

Where is our head, where is our heart? So this season if you are one of the lucky ones, and you had enough money to get everyone a new such-and-such, and you will share this wonderful day with loved ones, and you don’t get stranded in a snow storm or caught in a department store feeding-frenzy on Christmas Eve, then don’t forget to thank God. But more importantly, tell your kids to do the same.



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