Image by Sam Pullara
The gap between the rhetoric and the reality must be at its greatest at Christmastime.
Christmas is about giving – and we are pre-occupied with buying.
Christmas is about enjoying families – and the usual story is stress and conflict.
Christmas is about having a holiday – and yet we are often busier. Driving from one relatives place to another.
Like Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ story it is easy to conclude, “bah, humbug”!
And yet, and yet . . . We still do it. And I’ve been wondering why. The questioning of the commercialisation of Christmas is almost as common as the commercialisation itself.
I don’t believe that it’s the advertising. Advertising simply isn’t that influential.
I think there are two reasons for Christmas lasting.
First, there is social pressure. Our friends and family influence to an extraordinary extent. Who wants to be the only person to not give presents in the family – especially when you will be receiving them?
And yet many other parts of our social world has changed. The status of marriage has altered incredibly in just fifty years. And yet Christmas lives on. It may be that Christmas only happens once a year and so even if we don’t like it it is not worth the hassle of changing. Marriage happens 365 days a year and Christmas only one.
If this were the case though the sentiment would empty out. We would observe the form and not feel the emotions. And there seems to be no indication that this is happening. Christmas still seems to be invested with genuine emotion.
For Christmas to last, and to last with genuine feeling, it seems to me it must be fulfilling a genuine need.
And what the need is isn’t hard to see. It’s the one time of the year that we focus on giving. It seems to me that this is a genuine need. People feel genuine pleasure in making a worthwhile contribution. When we do those exercises about imagining our lives if we had enough money, we usually imagine ourselves doing something worthwhile. Our answers simply aren’t just lying around all day indluging ourselves. (If this is your answer I suggest you ask yourself if you are over tired).
To think about:
What is the contribution that I long to make?
What is the best Christmas gift I have received?
What is the best Christmas gift I have given?
What do I long to receive above all else?
Let me know your experience of Christmas and if you think it contains something genuine – however corrupted by commercialism.
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