Over the years some people have thought that my approach to Christmas was like Ebenezer Scrooge. Although my approach is a bit different I do not think it is jaded and uncaring like Mr. Scrooge. Today we will take a look at a proposal to rethink the way we celebrate Christmas.
Yesterday we commemorated Thanksgiving Day in the US by showing our appreciation to the many individuals who have helped me through the ages. Today we will give our usual thanks to WordPress and FeedBurner for the tools that make writing and distributing this blog free for all of us.
What is humbug?
According to Wikipedia a humbug was a joke. Eventually it came to mean fraud, hoax, or impostor. My interpretation of the Scrooge character is that he thought that Christmas was a great hoax that was perpetrated once a year “to pick his pocket”.
For me this means that Scrooge was very close to hating Christmas in its entirety. Not only did he dislike the actual way Christmas was celebrated, he disliked the actual idea of the spirit of Christmas. By disliking both the spirit and the method of celebration he negated the entire concept of Christmas.
Separate the spirit from the celebration
My approach to Christmas is to celebrate the spirit of Christmas and separate it from the actual traditions of Christmas. I think that the spirit of Christmas is one of the most important ideas that we can incorporate into our lives. However, the way we celebrate that spirit has become damaging to the actual spirit itself. I think it has gotten to the point that the celebration negates the actual spirit of the holiday.
The reason that I am choosing this day to publish this post is that today is “Black Friday”. In the retail business this is the busiest shopping day of the year, hence the name. This is the day that you cannot find a parking place at the mall. This is the day that you have to stand in line for twenty minutes to purchase your gifts. As far as I am concerned, this is the day to avoid retail establishments completely.
For me, Black Friday has become one of the symbols of what is wrong with the way we celebrate Christmas. We spend money that we do not have trying to make the people around us happy by giving them physical objects.
On this website we have repeatedly written about the fact that you cannot make anyone happy by giving them objects. Anyone who looks for true happiness from external objects is only going to find unhappiness. Black Friday is the embodiment of the concept that acquisition of physical objects will bring happiness.
Fat men and chimneys
Over the centuries the Christian European culture has gradually added traditions to the celebration of Christmas. These things have been such things as singing, lighted Christmas trees, Yule logs, feasting, giving presents, telling stories, and watching movies.
If we were to transport ourselves back in time to about one hundred years after Jesus was born we would not see any of these traditions. At best we might hear a story being told or someone might sing a song about Jesus. How did we get where we are today?
Did you ever ask yourself what the message of Jesus had to do with a fat man in a red suit jumping down chimneys? Does the message of Jesus tell us to kill a tree and stick it in our house for two weeks? Does the message of Jesus tell us to get so worried about making everyone else happy that the holiday period causes spikes in the need for mental health care?
The true spirit
The message of Jesus has nothing to do with any of these aberrations. The message of Jesus is strictly about unconditional love and acceptance of each other. My view is that we should shun the presents, don’t kill the tree, forgo the decorations, and work on unconditional acceptance of each other.
When we buy presents we are taking a short cut. It is easier for us to give a gift than to sit down and talk with those around us. We use the gift as a symbol to say we care, but we do not do the difficult work of learning to accept the “faults” of the person to whom we give the gift.
Don’t give the gift. Sit down and talk with the person instead. Be open to them. Accept them with no conditions. Find out what has gone on in their life during the past year. If they are interested, share with them what has happened to you.
A conversation like this will give them a gift that cannot be purchased in a store. A conversation like this will give a gift that will last much longer and become much more important to the other person than any physical object could ever be. A gift like this would be the embodiment of the message of Jesus – to care for each other with no conditions.
If you must give a gift, make the gift yourself. If you are a cook you can give cookies. My favorite gift to give is home made ice cream. If you are handy in other areas like woodworking, make something for your friends. The point is to make the gift a personal statement – not just a physical object that you bought in a store.
I do it for the kids
Over the years, as I talk to people about getting back to the basic message of Jesus, I hear this said. “I do it for the kids.” If you are really interested in the “kids” then you would be teaching them that they will not find true happiness in the physical objects.
Which generation is going to decide to stop the nonsense that has moved us away from the original message? We learned it from our parents and grandparents. We are teaching it to our children and grandchildren. We have to assume that if we don’t start to make the shift away from giving gifts and concentrate on the true message, it will not happen. We are always the example that our children will follow. How will they change if we do not change first?
If Jesus were here today would he be giving his children objects as gifts? I don’t think so. I think he would be telling them that everyone else is using the objects because they are either afraid or unable to share themselves as a gift. I think he would be teaching his children how to share themselves and accept those around them unconditionally. At that point there is no need of physical objects as gifts.
The war on Christmas
Some people might view what I am saying as part of the “War on Christmas”. I do it see it that way. I am not attempting to stop anyone from celebrating Christmas in the way they want to celebrate.
If you want to give gifts, go ahead. If you want to kill a tree and put it in your house for two weeks, go ahead. All I am attempting to say is to think about what you are doing. Do any of these things have anything to do with the message of Jesus? If you think they do – be my guest. Celebrate the way you want.
If wanting to eschew what have become the trappings of Christmas in favor of the original message counts as being part of the war on Christmas – I plead to being a warrior.
I do not consider it a war. I consider it a call to the true message of caring and acceptance that Jesus brought us. And that message was not about war.
What better time to start than this year when we are all uncertain of our monetary situation. Start now. Don’t spend all that time trying to figure out what to buy. Instead spend that time planning your conversations that will replace your gifts. This year your gift to your friends and family is your conversation. Spend your time planning and having those conversations.
That’s all for today. Have a great weekend – and don’t go shopping!
Until Monday –
Es kava turen hai
We work towards an identical goal.
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