I don’t like Christmas—there, I said it.
But to be more precise, I don’t like what Christmas has become. It’s all about shopping, buying presents for family, friends, acquaintances—as well as “deals too good to pass up” for oneself—and trying to outdo one another to see who has the most expensive and elaborate decorations, both indoors and out. And cost be damned! If one has to put it on a credit card that most likely will not be paid off when next Christmas rolls around, so be it.
For many, Christmas has become a secular holiday wrapped up in rampant consumerism—not to mention poor Thanksgiving, which has been co-opted into the holiday buying frenzy). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think buying gifts is necessarily a bad thing; I just think it has been taken to excess. And on top of that, many children, and probably some adults, don’t even know the true reason for the celebration: the birth of Christ.
I wasn’t raised in an overtly religious family. Yes, we went to church on Sunday, sometimes on Sunday and Wednesday nights, and occasionally to revivals; but God and Jesus were not frequent topics of conversation. My parents taught values by example. Both were soft-spoken and kind, but believed in discipline when needed; did their best to teach their seven children right from wrong; worked hard to take care of the family without government help; and were there to help extended family members and neighbors in their time of need. In reality, we weren’t much different from most other families of that era.
Christmas at our house was more of a celebration of family, though we all knew it was Christ’s birthday. And I don’t think He probably minded all that much. Mama cooked for several days to feed her husband and children—and later on, spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—a scrumptious Christmas dinner. When I was still at home, us kids received a few gifts, but nothing expensive. And looking back, something I gave instead of received, is my most treasured memory…
In the days leading up to Christmas, as all kids do, I pilfered around under the tree, looking at presents, looking for my name, and shaking those, of course. When I was about five or six, at a certain point in all the looking and shaking, I realized my mama didn’t have a present under the tree. And that made me sad.
I remember going into the kitchen where Mama was working (she was always working at something) and asking why she didn’t have anything under the tree. I don’t remember her answer, but she must have seen the distress on her youngest’s face. She didn’t tell me that providing Christmas for seven children put a severe strain on her and Daddy’s limited resources; she didn’t tell me they didn’t have the money to buy presents for each other; she offered up a solution instead. She gave me a powder compact she hadn’t yet opened, a small square of Christmas paper, and told me I could wrap it for her.
I still remember how good it made me feel to put that small present under the tree for my mama. And looking back, I think I realized that day that it is better to give than receive, whether it’s your time, talent, donating to charities—something other than buying presents that put you into debt, and/or will be shoved in a closet and forgotten by New Year’s Day. (My favorite charity is The Salvation Army, an organization that helps all regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation—despite what you may have heard or read otherwise).
Some years ago, I quit the Christmas rat race of spend, spend, spend. I put up a tree, cook a nice meal for my family, and in the years that little ones are about, get them a simple, inexpensive gift. My present to all is the getting together of family, which is not always easy to accomplish in today’s busy world.
I am not a religious person, but I am one who believes in tradition. We so need tradition in the fractured society we live in, and I think Christmas affords us that opportunity to come together as a family and appreciate the fact that we are lucky enough to have one. And to look past differing opinions and beliefs, and all the other “differings” of our families and fellow humans, and realize we are much more the same than we are different.
Love and peace to all, and a very Merry Christmas.
©️2019 KT Workman
Photo via Pixabay