One of these things I find about the so-called “Christmas season” is this almost irrational clamor over giving gifts. You have the commercialism that’s crept into things and the greed that comes from there. The Christmas shopping season starts earlier and earlier. After all, the majority of the sales of all retail businesses occur in December. Then there are these “holidays” like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Pushing all of these things. And, by and large, we buy into it. People crush each other running after things in the stores. People camp out waiting for the stores to open in the hope that they get a thing they lust after in the ads. More to fill the house, yet nothing is ever satisfied.
I’m not going to pretend that Christ Mass ever had anything to do with Christ to begin with, but the one thing it has done that’s praise-worthy is that it softens the hearts of people in the name of giving these gifts. Once upon a time, these gifts had a certain meaning. But do these gifts have any meaning today? We go after these “gifts” for ourselves we’ve been pining for all year, and then get puzzled on what specifically to get others. It’s even awkward to know what to do sometimes. Cards? Gifts? What?
Unfortunately, with this society that’s decreased personal contact, relationship, and (face it) community, it’s been made impossible to know what would be meaningful and heart-felt to another. So it turns into an occasion to make yourself look good, getting whatever you would like in your own mind, not knowing what they would like or need. What they would like or need might be cheaper, even, but (*gasp*) it might require actual time and involvement! Or the eternal cop-out, gift cards or cash. There’s nothing more telling of a lack of community when a whole group exchanges cash or gift cards. Or nothing at all. For example, the two people that I saw exchange gift cards for Amazon. So what was really accomplished?
Then there’s one more season: Gift-Return Day, where all the attempts at “thoughtful” gifts are returned for the cash anyway. Yet another crush in the store, which gets very interesting to compare to church attendance when Sunday happens to fall on the 26th. Then there’s the crushing results on the checkbook and credit cards after the fact which will take many more days to address, but back to it again the next year. After all, our community is tied up in our things now and not people. What’s true connections with family, friends, and the greater community when you can have a house full of stuff anyway?