Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Musings On a Christmas Sighting in October


I just read an advertisement exhorting us to begin Christmas shopping. What the ad did not succeed in doing was mobilizing my shopping self (this is a self which I am not in contact with often). Why does this holiday consistently pursue my money (previously my parents' money) earlier and earlier in the year? While strategic shoppers may appreciate this "friendly reminder", I feel nagged; it as if someone is trying to convince me that money is burning a hole in my pocket and must leap out and buy something (this falsely implies that there is, in fact, money in my pocket).

My Christmas shopping usually takes place within 3 days of Christmas itself. This is partly because I do not like shopping and therefore put it off, and partly because the "Christmas Spirit" has a tendency to lose its luster when it has been parading around assaulting people's bank accounts for a month or more. I therefore try to personally avoid much of the Christmas hullabaloo for as long as possible in order to theoretically make Christmas eve and day more enjoyable. The jury is still out on whether this works, but I like to tell myself that it does. I would most certainly like to enjoy the fall in its glory before the hectic Christmas season begins. (back home in Texas, Christmas is its own season along with the other seasons of "almost summer", "summer", and "still summer")

Year after year, when one of my favorite holidays (Thanksgiving: no gifts necessary, only a delicious culinary escapade) rolls around, Christmas decorations and festivities strive to upstage this wonderful cuisine conglomeration. This year, it is ridiculous. Thanksgiving is still in the distance, and Christmas is already arriving, greedily eyeballing money and reaching for credit cards. I suppose, however, I am grateful that the word "Christmas" was used in the advertisement.

1 comment:

eclexia said...

I hate shopping at the best of times. And Christmas turned into a consumeristic mayhem is certainly not the best of times in my book! Basically, I boycott the mall because of personal preference and small pocketbook (Walmart, Dollar Tree and Goodwill are more in my price range :) ) except for once, maybe twice a year, so it's nothing special or personal when I avoid it at Christmas time.

In our home I keep reminding my kids whose birthday we are remembering at Christmas. We decorate a tree, but get creative in our decorations--every decoration reminds us of a name or characteristic of God (which can, admittedly, be seen either as unnecessarily cheesy or syncretistic).

As for gifts, it's one or two per person and usually something that fits into our walk with the Lord--a new Bible or Bible story book (depending on the age; my kids are ages 4 to 12), or a book, CD or even a toy that is devotional or educational in the spiritual realm.

I don't say this as some sort of ideal, or way I think everyone else should do things. It is what works for our family; it keeps the stress off of me; it enables us to have fun with the season (with our tree and other decorations, in the same way as we simplistically--I don't do anything complicated ever--put out fall decorations); it keeps me out of the mall :)

We do participate in and enjoy various cultural celebrations of Christmas and "social gatherings of the season", even if they ignore Christ. So, we don't boycott the "holiday". We just take such celebrations lightly and enjoy them as we do other seasonal opportunies in the area throughout the year. With Christmas, though, we enjoy the other stuff, but our home becomes the setting for a month long, laid back Advent celebration/focus on Christ.

The challenge, I suppose, as my kids grow older, is to be matter of fact about the "way we do things" without being pulled into jealousy (for how others do or get more) or condemnation (for the same reason). Yes, I want my kids to think critically about how and why they do certain things, including celebrate various holidays. But, I do not see that as being the same as walking around in perpetual criticism and looking down on others who do and see things differently. Being a critical thinker, I'm thinking, can be very different from being critical. I'll have to think on that some more...