Anyone traipsing through a modern shopping mall at Christmas time can see that Christmas has become ALL about presents.
“What do you want?”
“What did you get me?”
Does how much you spend reflect just how much you love or care for someone? We all know the story of the ‘Widow’s Mite’ don’t we? For example, if you have very little cash, but spend 90% of it on your loved ones, which equates to a relatively modest gift apiece – is this worth less than the millionaire who spends (and can afford) thousands of dollars? Which gifts have more ‘value?’ Perhaps neither? Has the giving of a gifts become more about how we are judged and the pressure of Christmas, than about how we really feel?
1. INT STABLE NIGHT
“What did Joseph get you for Christmas?”
“Well, you know we have been so busy travelling for the census, he hasn’t had time…”
“Mary! What did you get?”
“Tea Towels? And what else?”
“I don’t think he’s gotten my main present yet..”
“Oh dear you poor thing!”
“What did you get then?”
“My darling got me adorable twin slaves, a new camel (you know my old one was over two years old) and we’re going to Rome for two weeks holiday… ”
First Wise Man
“I’m bringing a pot of Myrrh to Jesus, that’ll be alright won’t it?
“I should think so.”
Second Wise Man
“What’s the First Wise Man bringing?
Second Wise Man
“Bugger, I better go one better and get the Frankincense then.”
Third Wise Man
“What are the others bringing?”
‘Myrrh and frankincense.’’
Third Wise Man
“I’ll show them. Bring me a pot of gold!”
Since then, gifts and their dollar value have been irrevocably linked. Also, those around you judge the health of your relationships on what gifts you have received, most especially at Christmas and birthdays. The pity pours down the line, and is then telegraphed on to everyone you know “Poor thing! Can you believe what he got her for Christmas?”
Where does this lead us all? I observed those around me at the shopping centre, marching grimly from retailer to retailer on a desperate quest to prove their love. No one looked happy, quite the contrary, most people looked stressed and a bit cross. The only serenity I observed was on the faces of the characters in a plaster nativity scene placed off to one side and largely ignored. The figures were dressed in blue, and had pink faces and red lips, looking as if they’d emerged from a Christmas circa 1950. Their message of ‘Peace 0n Earth And Goodwill To All Men’ appeared to be superfluous. (There was certainly no ‘goodwill’ in evidence in the car park outside.)
Every year, I swear never to get sucked into the consumerist madness again, but every year I find myself in the hellish vortex that is Christmas shopping. In large part because I have children, (and worse) children with HIGH EXPECTATIONS!
As for myself, I have gotten to the point where ‘Happy Christmas’ really means nothing. It’s a bit like the words ‘I love you” – both monstrously overused and seldom sincere.
Christmas for me, especially the last few years, has not been easy. That being said, I therefore perfectly understand that for some of you reading this, Christmas isn’t going to be a particularly happy time. I don’t know your reasons why. Maybe you are alone? Grieving? Broke? Unwell? Far from home? Whatever your situation, I do wish I could give you a smile, human to human…
One thing I do know is that situations can change for the better. Miracles do happen and that sometimes love and luck can find us, even in our dark and desperate corners. So…I do hope you find a little peace, a little comfort, a little hope and more than a little joy this silly season. ☺