At the annual Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the commercialization of Christmas and urged the faithful to “see through the superficial glitter of this season.”
We’ve lost the true meaning of the season, that we should all come together and, well, hmm… Sing around a decorated tree?
Wait. What’s the purpose of Christmas again?
All kidding aside, ’tis the season of celebrating the birth of Jesus in a little manager in Bethlehem. At least to the Christians. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shinto, Shamanic, a few Christian faiths, atheists and agnostics — really, most of the world — don’t celebrate the religious-based version of Christmas.
But many of us decorate overpriced sheered evergreens, hang stockings by the fireplace (or, in my case, the wine chiller), and tell stories about a fat guy in a red suit who slides down your chimney — a felony in most states, by the way — to leave gifts for good kids. And we have no idea why.
And today, the day after Christmas, is one of the biggest retail holidays of the year — second to the day after Thanksgiving, when stores offer deep discounts to bargain-hunting folks starting their Christmas shopping.
It will likely be even more profitable for retailers considering it’s a holiday for most American workers. Meaning, they have nothing better to do than flock to the nearest mall and return all those gifts they got yesterday.
If the start of Christmas — Black Friday, on which retail sales totaled $10.6 billion, by the way — and the day after Christmas — today — are the bookends of the season, it’s obvious the holiday centers around shopping and spending money.
So what is Christmas, except a hugely profitable season for retailers and restaurants, many of which often spend the rest of the year in the red and are financially rescued during the last quarter of the year?
The gifts, though, aren’t the best part of Christmas to me. It’s getting together with friends and family, it’s hearing Christmas songs on the radio, it’s having an excuse to bake gingerbread and sugar cookies. I just love that the season compels us to do things we don’t do the rest of the year. And even if we shouldn’t wait until December to meet up with old friends or hand out cookies to co-workers, it’s still nice that we do it.
To me, that’s what Christmas is all about.
But I’m not returning my gifts!
Hope you all had a great holiday season!
The commercialization of Xmas is just about over
Now that everyone has returned their unwanted gifts, cashed in their gift cards, and bought lots of cheap discount stuff, time to shift our attention on New Year’s Eve
Time to redirect our spending
Time to focus on buying lots of alcohol and sashimi and illegal fireworks.
And purchasing big screen $ 3000 HD TVS equipped with WIFI and 3D to watch all the football games
Then to make News Year’s resolutions to be more healthy, by spending even more money, buying lots of exercise equipment, gym memberships, videos, diet pills, wrinkle creams, hair restoration, makeup and hair products, etc and tons more stuff being shown on infomercials
There was a story on NPR about how anticipation of something good was way better than the actual thing.
I think this is totally true about Christmas. All the getting together with friends, thinking of others (when buying presents), making treats, etc— I love that about Christmas.
But I am totally going to go on vacation next Christmas so I won’t have to buy any presents. Ha!
I agree. People get way too caught up in the glitz and the glam. Just because you see something on TV, on your favorite celebrity or in an advertisement as the “newer” model, you don’t HAVE to have it. Such things don’t make you a better or more accomplished person, nor does the instant gratification last. And often, the thing that lasts the longest is the credit card bill and all the intrest accuring on the balance. Where’s the joy, peace and love in that?
I love giving gifts (and receiving them, too), but I would never go into debt over it or spend my life stressed out in a mall parking lot or in a long line at the register. Our kids receive many little gifts under the tree, but their biggest gift is our time and the money we invest (now and later) in their education — at school and in the world. Our holidays are mostly spent singing together, visiting the lights, watching Christmas movies, sharing fun treats, eating and laughing — because that’s what we’ll all remember years down the line. People are so much more valuable than things, even though it is fun to swap some fun things with each other at Christmas. 🙂
Cat, very nice post!
Cat, if you want to know how Christmas got started ( the Santa Claus part) check out VeggieTales movie about it. :>)
I guess the current version is good for restaurants and Walmart etc as you say. I do like that at least it encourages us to get together with friends and family etc.
CAT: This Christmas was the worst, when stores started putting out Christmas stuff right after Halloween. Next year I expect it will follow the 4th of July!
I go to church and celebrate the birthday of our savior.
There is a segment of about two minutes in the “Charlie Brown Christmas” cartoon that is priceless. It is Linus “true meaning of Christmas” speech on stage and at the center of my heart. I am not particularly religious, really something of an agnostic-existentialist who goes to church every Sunday, but Linus’ words are directly from the Gospel of Luke, and it is a beautiful moment. I read the same passage every Christmas to my family. I have it on a little slip of paper that gets put away with the decorations until they come out again the next year.
I have another thing I read to the family every Christmas, but that’s another story. It makes me cry every time, a middle-aged man.
Hey Cat … yeah, commercialism sucks!!! … but that’s life as we know it … I just look past it and enjoy the “finer” things of the holiday season … like family and friends … the hype and glitz are ok, but will fade soon after the holiday season …
… hope you are having a wonderful holiday season too … and hold on … the season is not quite over yet … we’ve still got the New Year on the horizon …