Christmas has come and gone again and I'm left wondering if perhaps the Puritans were right in avoiding the celebration.
In those days it was the pagan subtext which troubled their consciences. In these days it's a new paganism, a consumerist paganism. With each Christmas comes the earlier and earlier shopping season, the rush to buy the latest new gadget or trinket, and the desire to outdo all others with our gift-giving prowess. Christmas comes and we rip into our toys, oftentimes we are disappointed, or overwhelmed, or perhaps underwhelmed at our loot. We silently feel gipped when someone we spent so much on gives us something worthless. We (perhaps only outwardly) withhold our anger when the recipient of our well-thought-out gift doesn't stand up with great joy and pronounce us the greatest gift-giver ever.
Our pride expects more gifts and more praise than we deserve. It further drives us to cling to the ever-present thought that the more we get the more we are loved, and the more we give to others the more they will love us.
Once again our children are buried in well-intentioned gifts and the house becomes a volcano of toys and clothing erupting uncontrollably until at least June, when their weary parents are finally able to dig their way to a closet and force everything into it.
Maybe it's my pragmatism, maybe it's my growing disdain for our wasteful materialistic culture, but I'm leaning more and more towards that Puritan way of thinking. I have been seeking to eliminate the useless in my life, to rid myself of sentimental attachments to things. Our home (and my parents' storage room) is cluttered enough with the remains of my pack-rat childhood to accept any more non-essentials. While I am no less thankful for the gifts I received, my mind is troubled with the question of what to do with the less practical ones.
Please, dear family and friends, if you love them and value my sanity, next year, buy my children something useful, invest in their education, or invest in their spiritual growth. If you must get them toys practice good economics and buy fewer. Scarcity gives objects value, even children understand this. They will cherish what they receive more if they are not dividing their attention over a million trinkets. They will be far less careless in their treatment of their gifts, your wallet will remain intact, and my house will not be buried in three feet of Chinese plastics. I believe everyone wins. :>D
But Christmas is a time with family, and a time to recognize the gift of Christ, both good things that I would like my children to be involved in. So it will remain a celebrated holiday in my house. I am thankful to be drowning in blessings (even the impractical ones), and I pray that I am able to sort them out before the next Christmas blizzard comes.