If I were to mention the word, "Christmas", would you think to yourself, "Already?" Likely not. Barely days after Thanksgiving, and Halloween, we are inundated with store displays and commercials heralding the coming of Christmas. "Shop! Shop! Shop!" we are told... and before the Holy Day arrives we are exhausted by the consumerism.
What does Christmas mean to you?
I am not ashamed to say that I love Christmas. I love the lights. It is a dark time of year. I need the lights and I need the colour.
I love that Christmas...like Thanksgiving, gives us a reason to gather as a family. In the busy world we live in, we often need a reason to come together other than for weddings and funerals.
When my brother and I were little, Christmas morning was spent with our church family, remembering the reason that we were gathered that day. I never tired of the story of the Three Wise Men and their journey to visit the Newborn King. The gift giving always came last. We looked forward to that. We did not receive a lot and we appreciated what we did receive. That brings me to what I hate about "Christmas Present."
We receive subtle and not so subtle messages via the media, that we must engage in the act of buying to make our recipients happy. Bigger and more expensive seems to be the order of the day. "Consume! Consume! Consume!" we are told. We drag ourselves through stores day after day,. We fret over purchases. I am sure that many of us think the words... "I have to....after all they buy for us." Whatever happened to "I want to honour so and so with a gift from the heart?" How many of us consider the amount waste that is produced on this day in particular, and for those who believe...how many of consider the huge carbon footprint that is left when our celebration is complete? How many of us go into debt during this holiday? What does all of this have to do with the reason behind the celebration?
I have decided to opt out this year. Of course I will hang lights. Of course I will give gifts, and of course I will gather with my family. This year, however, I am scaling back. I am making as many gifts as I can. I am only giving gifts that are useful. I refuse to step into a store.
Throughout the year, I have prepared. I have bought clothing on sale, guessing the sizes of my family members months in advance. (It is a risky business!)
More than anything else, I am opting out of the need to keep up with the "Jones." I will celebrate Christmas in the way I once did when I was little and attempt again, to see the Celebration through the eyes of "little Wendy." I will once again read the story of the Three Wise Men....and if I am not working, I plan on attending Midnight mass with my dad.
I would encourage you to put a lot of thought into this Christmas. There is still time. If you give gifts, then give gifts from the heart. Make. Bake. Share. Give of yourself.
As a parting note, I would like you to have a look at the Angel on my tree. She has occupied this place of honour for the past 20 years. My daughter made that angel and it has gifted us since she was five years old. She turns 26 next week. Thank you Mandy. You and your brothers, your partners, my step kids and their partners, my partner, my parents and my friends...these are the greatest gifts of all.