Tuesday, December 9, 2008
A Discouraging Christmas Sentiment
I learned this week that the first advertisement for Christmas gift-giving was in America in 1804. By the 1820s it was standard tradition to give gifts like we do today. In the 1840s Harriet Beecher Stowe said that she was grieved at the amount of money that was wasted on buying Christmas gifts for ourselves.
Why must we buy into the need, the drive, the greed of gift buying in such excess? We may rationalize it by saying it's for others, but do those others need what we are buying? In the days after Black Friday I wondered in amazement at two back-to-back stories on the news: one being how holiday spending was up since last year (hooray), and two, how there isn't enough food at food banks and homeless shelters in several states. How can this be? On one hand we are spending money we don't have, buying presents we don't need...while people are starving? This is very discouraging to me.
Jon and I decided to not give each other gifts this year, but instead are adopting an anonymous family at church whose father is unemployed and are about to lose their house.
I am discouraged by all the things that Christmas is not, rather than rejoicing at what it is. It's not just about love and giving and peace...it's the birth of Christ! When did we forget that? When did we allow it to be so many other things?