What Would Jesus Buy?

Reverend Billy says the Shopocalypse is coming, and you can color me commie, but I believe he's right. Kiddos, it's time to assume the position underneath your school desks. Grownups, duck and cover, because Halloween is over and you know what that means:

It's Christmasshopomadnesstime!

The intercontinental bombardment has begun, with a 673.8 percent increase in junk mail-order catalogues slamming into a mailbox near you. That's right: you my friend are ground zero, and Madison Avenue has an itchy finger on the button. So brace yourself for shopoactive atmosphere everywhere you go, fueled by those holy hymns of yesteryear, Jingle Bell Rock and Santa Baby. Even with the full body protection of a liberal line of credit, you're bound to absorb enough guilt and envy to start glowing in the dark. But don't worry; by the time the bankruptcy is over you’ll be so numb you won't feel it anymore.

Or . . .

You could fire back. Little ones must get their goodies from Santa, of course. But in the past, The Lovely Sue and I have also given Christmas presents to people who really need them (sick people, poor people, orphans). We gave them in the names of our adult friends and family. Then we sent fancy Christmas ornaments to our loved ones. On the ornaments, we used gold or silver paint to inscribe a description of the gift some person got in their name (“Sally with leukemia got a tricycle given in your name—Christmas, 2007”). Through the years we hope those ornaments will be used to deck the halls, and help us and all our loved ones to remember what Christmas really means.

How about your family? Do you have traditions or ideas for keeping Christmas centered on the Christ?

Posted byAthol Dickson at 5:34 PM  

2 comments:

Kay said... November 21, 2007 at 6:08 AM  

A friend told me about this movie the other day. I think the guy looks seriously whacked, but that's part of it's charm.
We have been downsizing Christmas each year, but it still is bigger than I would like to see. We buy our kids junk all year long. That has deprived them of the special joy of Christmas presents anyway.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving1

gb said... November 30, 2007 at 9:10 PM  

Athol,

My family (us, my sister and her family, parents grandparents) has done several things over the past few years to keep the focus correct during Christmas.

If we are going the "gift giving" route, we have drawn "only one name each" in the Fall and include a mandatory maximum value of something like $10 or $20. The names are drawn early in the Fall so that each "small" gift can be thought through and have very specific personal significance to its recipient. (When small children have been involved, we have humored them with gifts but only after reading and discussing or having fun projects concerning the story of Christ's birth. It is made clear that the holiday celebrates Jesus. The "Santa Clausiness" is an just an excuse for us to show/tell the youngsters how much they are loved. In fact, for them, most of the time, most of the gifts were opened on Christmas Eve night [before Santa could arrive].)

Also, in other "gift giving" mode years we drew names and:

One year we had a rule that no gift could be new.

One year each gift had to be hand made, preferably by the giver.

More recently, we have abandoned any gift giving to each other and simply given donations which were all joined together to give gifts/purchase projects through agencies like Samaritan's Purse. We have provided animals which began a small business for a family in a third world country or helped drill a fresh water well, etc. I think this year we may be assisting a project in a small village so they can start educating their children.

Athol, the Gift has already been given and we are the recipients of it... and it keeps on giving. Our purchasing of "stuff" and the giving it to each other is almost an absurd "observance" or even sacrilegious trivialization of what is supposedly an occasion of honoring the significance of Christ's birth.

Rituals of mutual gift giving are just as suitable on any other date of the year. If it just has to be done (?), then why not as a send off on New Year's Day where it can be a clear and specific gesture of our love and appreciation for one another?

And while I'm on it (you can guess)... a church charging money (tickets) to those wanting to simply come and worship and celebrate the birth of Christ at a special Christmas service or musical performance is sad and bewildering. More sorrowful are those churches who have gradually watered down their Christmastime portrayal and explanation of the gospel message to become no more than ticket-selling "pseudo-Christmas message" holiday productions and concerts designed to entertain. Jingle Bell Jesus.

I guess that's showbiz.

Just my thoughts,
Gary

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