Was the Grinch right after all? How about the picture of a sad, exhausted Santa with the caption: “All I want for Christmas is it to be over.” It starts too soon, costs too much, requires too much time and hassle and angst … we would be better off without it, right?
The New Republic printed an article on the subject. In part, it read: “Although for many years Christmas has been justified on the grounds that it is ‘merry,’ rigorous quantitative analysis establishes that the opposite is the case. Despite claims advance by proponents that the holiday promotes a desirable ‘spirit,’ makes people ‘jolly,’ etc. the data show that the yuletide time period is marked by environmental degradation, hazardous products and travel, and – perhaps most important – inefficient uses of key resources.” (James S. Henry, December 31, 1990)
Well, I feel better, don’t you? The guy had some interesting points. There is a lot of waste at Christmas. We buy things that people don’t need. We eat too much. We attend functions where our motivation might be anything but pure. We spend energy and money that we don’t have. We spoil kids who already have too much. We have to listen to sappy, sad seasonal songs that assault us wherever we go. We resent feeling obligated to buy gifts (or match gifts) for people we know but are either not close to or don’t care for.
Did I leave anything out? I’m feeling a bit Scroogy myself. I think I’ll go sit in the corner and stew for a while.
Yes, there are things about how we observe and celebrate Christmas that need changing. Kim and I realize more and more that just buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff doesn’t make sense. The horrible traffic, the crowded stores, the hectic schedule, and the long to-do lists can wear anyone out. If you’re not careful, you can run out of reason for the season … if the reason isn’t soundly rooted in the story Scripture reveals.
But Christmas doesn’t deserve all this vitriol. At the heart of the matter is a love story. Christmas should call for the best from us. The perfect Christmas gift isn’t found in an online catalog or a drastically-reduced store sale. The first and best present was wrapped in swaddling clothes.
The giving should flow from grateful hearts who have received so much from a gracious God. What we give should be motivated by more than keeping up with the Joneses or the latest fad or the next best thing. We should give to bless, to honor, to celebrate, to serve.
I love Christmas. I love what it means to be with family and friends. I love how it reminds me that God thought us worthy of such a gift. Merry Christmas!