Sunday, December 18, 2011

Five of the Seven Deadly Sins Practiced in Christmas

The madness of Black Friday kicks off our holiday season as shoppers ring in the season with pepper spray and knives, shoves and pushes. Frenzied traffic as holiday shoppers forget their manners and their Christian principles blocking intersections and cutting people off as they scramble to fulfill the societal obligation of Christmas duties. Insane holiday party schedules disconnect us from the reason of the season. Like Cindy Lou Who, I wonder where Christmas is. I see hypocrisy, greed, glutton and the pursuit for the perfect Christmas holiday. I use to be one of these people, especially when I was married: the perfect menu that wows; the prettiest wrapped packages; the spirited decorations in every room of the house; a list of 100 for holiday cards; the most festive Christmas outfit. The older I've gotten, the less I enjoy Christmas when I see how our country, a society participates within it.

Many believe and preach the true reason for the season is Jesus Christ, and I agree; but I hold little confidence in the majority's belief when I witness such gluttony, and hypocrisy, practiced by the pious faith of Christianity. Somehow, I can't imagine Jesus would be okay with his followers behaving, both individually and towards others, in the spectacle of celebrating his birth through gluttony (excessive gifting, food, celebration), greed (perpetuation through gluttony), wrath (anger/rage in traffic, Black Friday), envy (wanting for Christmas what they don't have), and even pride (being more attractive or better through decorating, gift giving). Aren't these a few of the seven deadly sins? I grew up Catholic and understand the significance of Christ's birth; yet, despite the high-tech praise and glory power of Christmas services around the country, I see Christianity, never mind our society as a whole, losing sight of the meaning of Christmas. If Jesus really is the reason for the season, why do so many participate in this holiday madness? The Wise Men gave only three gifts, fine gifts, but they were in honor of Jesus, not to “wow,” impress, meet expectation, or earn favor. This season is about giving from one's heart, in honor and celebration of the person to whom we give, not because its “what we do” or expected of us.

Let the children enjoy Santa, but within reason. Do they really need all the latest and greatest of every trendy toy, electronic, fashion or gadget that's out there? What are we teaching children if not gluttony, avarice, and pride? Are we buying gifts because its expected and pressured of us? Do we endow so many gifts upon our loved ones to prove our love, materialisticly demonstrate how we value them, or worse, to absolve guilt, or win love and favor? Children should enjoy the experience of Santa's visit; it's part of tradition, and if I had children, I'd do the same thing, but within reason. A high school friend recently shared a story of a mutual classmate who purchased goats, chickens and cows for the poor in other countries through Heifer International in honor of her kids. Her kids will get a few small things to open on Christmas day but Mom decided they really didn't need anything since they are well provided for all year long. What a beautiful gift she's giving to her children: lessons about sharing abundance; global awareness; and the lesson of unconditional giving!

I've chosen to practice the true to the meaning of Christmas this year. I don't need or want anything, and have told my family so. I have a warm bed to sleep in, a home sheltering me, food, a good job, and friends. And my family doesn't need anything either. I decided to give the spirit of Christmas to my family instead: gifts given to those who are in need. I adopted two senior citizens with little income and no family, and given food to the food bank so those who are struggling can have a family meal. I also donated money to a local charity serving those who face an uphill battle to do the simplest things in life. I've also spent hours doing something I express creatively through my heart – baking. I've gifted those who've given me so much this year in my life with these sweet goodies.

The meaning of Christmas is about giving from our heart. As we were gifted by God an incredible teacher named Jesus Christ, the giving was simple without decorative fanfare and exorbitant extravagance. The Wise Men humbly gave small, simple, symbolic gifts without expectation of something in return. Their gift was of honor and appreciation for the presence of God's gift to the world. The gift of the Heart touches another's Heart, symbolic of God's Light and Love.

The Season of Giving is about quality, not quantity. God's gift was simple but powerful: a baby born in a manger, given to teach us of the power of Love, Peace, Joy and Forgiveness. While our Christian society, both those “year-round” and “once a year” participants talk a good talk of putting “Christ” back into the reason for the season, I invite us all to really contemplate our holiday practices and actions, and how they are overshadowing the true meaning of Christmas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We enjoy Santa, but as parents we emphasise the important act of giving. Not material gifts, the gift of time and service. Volunteering for soup kitchens, reading to and playing music for nursing homes are just a few things we do as a family. My kids love this and we do it all year round. We set goals for hours to give. This is so much more rewarding that having the best wrapped gifts. Thank you for this blog. Enjoy your gifts that god has blessed you with, and continue to share them with the world.