Posting for my own benefit, in case I forget... Meds are taken and animals are fed.
I've felt pretty nonparticipatory about Christmas this year. I gave my sister's family a gift. Mom's gift either never arrived or I hid it from myself as well as her. I told Dad I'd give him his gift on his birthday, and he was fine with that. I was a bit embarrassed about it since I had picked Mom's gift out months ago!
To tell the truth, I'm feeling mighty Scrooge-like in general about Christmas. I grew up in a religious family, and even though my sister and I were always excited primarily about the gifts and there was always a huge basket of gifts brought over by Granny and Gramps, we had a tradition of reading the Christmas story, praying before we ate, etc. Christmas has never been the same since 1992, and as I've gotten older I've become much more aware of the fact that as a single adult I really have no tradition of my own. I'm participating in other people's traditions, and I don't feel like I can make them my own at all. At least Christmas songs were sung this year, but I think the focus was more on my niece playing the piano than on Jesus. The Christmas story was not read, and we didn't pray before eating. I suppose that was because everyone else had gone to the Christmas Eve service ahead of time and already gotten their dose of spirituality. The entire focus of the evening was on gifts: everything built to that one point. So Christmas really isn't about Jesus anymore. It's about presents, Santa, etc. There is gift-giving, and on the surface it looks selfless. But much of it is obligator; and is a gift really a gift if it is obligatory? Part of my angst is that there are people I would dearly love to give gifts to, but I could never do it because my very small bit of money goes to obligatory gift-giving for people I will be seeing at dinner. Something seems wrong with this picture.
I understand why some people don't celebrate Christmas. I'm not sure I'm willing to go to that extreme, although I must admit that I have a million theological and philosophical questions. Why do we mix the birth of Christ with a societal gift-giving celebration of relationships? It seems to me that we are having significant trouble balancing our love of God and man in this celebration, especially knowing that we are going to benefit personally from some of this gift-giving.
What kind of message does the concept of Santa Claus teach children about themselves and life? You get rewarded for goodness and punished for misbehavior, and some fat man with a beard knows all about it. That seems completely wrong. Oh, of course, every kid gets presents in their stocking; but they also go around singing, "You better watch out, you better not cry..." I hate that song with every fiber of my being! It's wrong to tell kids to bury their feelings. I think it's a disrespect to the real Saint Nicholas; but more than that I think it's wrong to turn a person into an idol. Once again, we have given Santa the place of Christ. It is he who knows all about the good and bad that we have done; and he took it all upon himself and died to set us free from the consequences of the evil that we have done! He says, "Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." We are told to cast our cares upon him, not hide them away lest he stick a lump of coal in our stocking! "If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Let's teach kids a message of hope instead of a message of fear! After all, it is HIS birth we honor on this day!
That said, I do treasure the gifts I received. There weren't many, but that's all right. They were perfect for me this year.
- A super-comfy winter nightgown from my niece--I tried it last night but the weather was too warm
- A box of goodies from Starbucks
- Dramatized Chronicles of Narnia on CD
- A gift certificate for a massage
- A keyboard stand with adjustable height--no more wrist pain from playing piano at the wrong angle!