It’s that time of the year again when the cooler weather descends, the lights are strung up and we hoist up our credit card debt just a couple of notches. Unfortunately, this is also the time of the year where the self-righteous shake the dust off their knee pads and bravely enter into the safe world known as the blogosphere to wax nuance about the evils of the American WASP’s (White Anglo Saxton Protestant) holiday idolatry and celebratory practices. Look across Christian blogs, Tweets and Facebook status updates and you will find snippy comments about the other dullards and their shallow practices. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who has just aced their Religion 101 final or squeaked by their first semester of seminary and have been bestowed with privileged knowledge that the 25th of December and many other Christmas symbols have their roots deep within pagan practices. These enlightened folk feel led to post their priceless knowledge on the web for all to marvel at their brilliance and experience religious guilt for letting pagan symbols into their homes and places of worship.
To make matters more annoying, the anti-Catholic zealots are out in full force to publicly poke holes in Catholic Theology. According to the Bible Code, it is the season to step up the attacks on the Pope and his minions. Oddly enough, many of these militants are willing to compromise when they sing the many Christmas songs that have their roots in Catholic origin.
Then, there are the public pronouncements against the materialism of Christmas. Usually, you will see postings littered with grim statistics about how much money the greedy WASP’s are spending on Christmas gifts versus how many will go hungry this holiday season. These freedom fighters for social justice thumb their noses at the long lines, mock people who clutter their floors under the Christmas tree with presents and look down on the parents who just bought the Super Ultra Deluxe Menstrual Cycle Barbie for their daughter.
But unless these vanguards of the proletariat are sitting in a public library, using a public computer and posting on a non-profit blog then I don’t think anyone in America pecking away at a Bluetooth keyboard can be the proper arbiter of what defines materialism.
I realize that in order to rattle some soapboxes, I have to get on one myself. I do, however, hope to convey a message of practicality, redemption and action; not for the benefit of my Jesus Ego getting stroked but to encourage people to take a breath.
Here are some practical steps to having a fulfilling and modest Christmas:
I could post some more grim statistics about how American Christians are the worst kind of Christians for spending money that they don’t have on presents that their children don’t need and buying food for their already fat guts. I am always cautious when I see Tweets, blog postings and Facebook status updates that try to extract guilt from people for their holiday practices because it has always been my experience that those who truly help the needy during the holidays (and throughout the year) are too busy actually DOING God’s work to post sanctimonious diatribes online. Believe me, I rarely see someone posting self-righteousness with their Macbook while simultaneously ladling out soup for the homeless. I know this for a fact because getting soup on your keyboard will void out one’s warranty with Apple Care. So here’s how you nip this in the bud, go out in your church or your community and do some work. Simple as that! Don’t advertise what you are doing but perform God’s work in secret and expect nothing in return.
3.) Too many presents demean the gifts.
Gifts are usually given to those who have not earned them with the exception of getting your wife a diamond necklace for putting up with you for 60 years. So go forth and spend wisely on gifts for your friends and loved ones. But make sure the gifts, for the most part, mean something. If your 10 year old son has a Playstation 3 and an X-Box 360 he probably doesn’t need a Nintendo Wii. Instead find out what really makes your son come alive and get him that (within reason). If your wife has indirectly maimed countless peasants in Africa due to her already extensive diamond collection, I don’t think she’ll be swept off her feet with one more. Instead, carve out some time and take her on a romantic trip. If your husband has a 60” LED Mitsubishi TV, an Onkyo stereo receiver, Polk Audio speakers and a Sony Blue Ray player, getting him a recliner/ottoman that vibrates, heats/cools, brews beer and has a catheter connected to your sewage line will not be as meaningful as taking him to see his favorite band in concert. FYI the detailed electronic medley was my Christmas list.
4.) Gifts can be Needs too!
In my older age, I find myself shoehorning in gifts that I need but would rather not to pay for. Is it selfish and/or lazy? Probably, but if I need a laptop battery to continue to post this drivel, then I am using my gift for something as opposed to asking for rims that are worth more than my car. If your niece needs clothes more than a Dora the Explorer doll, then buy her some clothes. If your neighbor needs help paying their heating bill, tie some money to a brick and throw it through their window (Minus the brick and window part). If someone in your church can’t afford to give his or her children a good Christmas, then pitch in.
If Catholics really bother you and those feelings really steal your joy for the season, then you need counseling. Whatever your theological differences are, give them a rest for a day because chances are, you don’t keep your disdain for Catholics quiet the rest of the 364 days of the year. Christ’s love makes you hate Catholics! We get it!
6.) People will shop… let them.
This is something that has been happening for thousands of years now and it will continue to happen. In fact, people’s purchases benefit you more than you think it does. The continual purchasing of Apple products gives you a faster and better computer. Buying Microsoft products actually gave Bill Gates the money to save Apple from financial ruin. Both of the “greedy” companies made it so pricey to use computers that people invented the free operating system called Linux. And you can’t post self-righteous guilt-producing comments online without any of these products. Do Americans spend too much money on material possessions? Of course they do, but what is your family and your community doing to live modestly?
8.) Jesus, Family and Friends.
Bask in the Light of God’s Glory for sending himself to save people that did not deserve redemption. Share that reality with your family and friends by spending time with them. I am excited about getting gifts on Christmas, but you want to know what I am looking forward to? Drinking pure Kona coffee and eating ham biscuits with my family on Christmas morning. I am looking forward to seeing friends I haven’t seen in a while. The gifts are awesome but gifts without God, family and friends won’t keep you warm at night nor fill your arms with hugs during the day. Hallmark here I come!
9.) Mind your manners in the stores! Be honest with yourself, you are the moron who woke up at 3am in the morning on Black Friday to march yourself to the store to get a free 2 dollar scanner. You do not have any extra rights or sympathies just because it’s the holiday season. If anything, you should be shunned and spat upon for cranking out an attitude because you are exhausted from buying gifts that could have been bought at a more convenient time. Don’t yell at the people who work in the stores or get your rusty barbed wire thongs in a wad because you waited until 5:59pm on Christmas Eve to buy the Twilight Sage: Eclipse or a Playstation 3. It’s not the retailer’s fault if you are unable conjure up the mental capacities to understand why Best Buy can’t meet your demands AT FREAKING 5:59 FREAKING PM ON CHRISTMAS FREAKING EVE!
12.) If pagan origins of contemporary holiday practices bother you, then don’t pester the rest of us who refrain from going into neurotic self-righteous seizures. Find your own symbols to celebrate Christmas if you aren’t totally against the ones we have now. But putting up a burning cross to shine the light of shame and guilt onto others doesn’t mean you doing God’s work. It might mean, however, that you are either struggling with the sin of pride or you are a card-carrying KKK member.
God bless us all!