Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My newest reason for disliking Christmas

I have disliked Christmas for a long time but for many different reasons.

It was around the time when I stopped receiving toys that I decided I didn't like Christmas.  The magic was over, I guess.

I also didn't like life not being normal.  I didn't like being stuck at home, unable to talk to my friends, who were celebrating Christmas with their families.  Unable to get out and do anything (back in the day when most everything was actually closed on Christmas).  Unable to watch anything other than televised sports (in my memory, all that was ever on television in our house when I was a kid was sports....I'm sure this is not actually the case, but that is how I remember it).

When I was old enough that I had responsibility for purchasing presents, I didn't like Christmas because I had to 1.) browse and then 2.) spend.  And these are two of my most unfavorite things to do.

Once I had my children, Christmas was redeemed a bit.  Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child is truly magical.

Unfortunately, this year I am really feeling my grinch, and I think it has to do with what I perceive as one of the main problems with US society.  These feelings have only deepened during and immediately after the presidential election.

I do not subscribe to the belief that if everyone just picked themselves up by their bootstraps, we could all have success and wealth.  I don't believe this for the same reason I think expecting all kids to be able to test to the same level is absolutely ridiculous.  Some people are supremely bright, highly motivated, obsessively focused.  Some people are higher than average, and some are middling.  Some people, for various reasons, will never, ever, ever have the ability to do anything more than menial labor.  This doesn't make them lazy or uninspired or worthless.

I'm no biblical scholar, but I seem to remember a certain revolutionary saying something on the order of, "The poor will always be with you."  What I find ironic is that many of the people who blame the problems of society and the economy on the low-income "deadbeat" folks are the same ones who profess to stand with Christ.  If Jesus was as radical as I suspect he was, I think he would lambast them.

There has always been and will always be the haves and have-nots, but it seems that what has happened, perhaps because of the 20th century notions that "every generation should always and in every case do better than their parents" and that "you can have it all" (which are both exceptional pieces of malarkey in my opinion), is that people chase their tails to have whatever is new.  I think the US is the epitome of "maybe this will make me happy," and it never does.  The US, as a whole, is in serious need of some therapy.

I realize that consumer spending is necessary and an important part of an economy.  But people in every social class have gotten all out of whack with their priorities and spending, and it makes the divide between the haves and have-nots so much more pronounced.

The iPhone craze is a perfect example of this.  Plenty of people have perfectly fine cell phones that work and do everything they were intended to do, but they get rid of them to get the newest iPhone.  Not only do they spend their money on cell phones, they then spend all their time on their cell phones, playing with the gadgets, noodling around.  I can't tell you the number of moms I see dorking around on their phones or chatting on their phones or texting someone with their phones instead of talking with their children at the park or the store.  Half the reason I am bat-shit bonkers by the end of the day is that I didn't use the distraction of my cell phone to ignore my children and preserve some of my sanity.

I think what wears me out, and Christmas personifies this, is the excess in society.  We have so much and we aren't even aware of it, myself included.  I fret over money as if I didn't have two pennies to rub together, when I am far better off than most people.

Although feeling guilt when I buy something certainly does not make for fun shopping, there is something good about questioning what I buy, how much I spend and whether what I'm getting is worth it.  I know that whatever I'm getting is not going to make me really happy, or if it does make me happy, the feeling won't last very long (because it never has).

Christmas it the epitome of everything I don't believe in.  Spending money on stuff.  Getting stuff when all your other stuff is perfectly fine and usable.  Worrying about pleasing people with stuff you get them.  Saving money for the entire year just to buy stuff.  (I know I'm starting to sound like a George Carlin routine.)

And what I find most disheartening is to hear so many people talk about the reason for the season, the babe in the manger from the lowest strata of society, and then blame the people in the lowest strata of US society for everything that is bad with the US.

1 comment:

Keri said...

Just a few thoughts...

First of all, please don't make the mistake of thinking that EVERYONE who stands with Christ blames society's ills on the least of these. Or that all who point joyfully to the babe in the manger are at the same time pointing accusingly to the poor and downtrodden as being lazy. I don't want to be lumped in with that crew, and I know plenty of other Christians who don't fit that profile either.

Secondly, it's kind of funny that you and I come from different sides of the political spectrum yet have had some similar thoughts. I've always thought of that same verse ("There will always be poor among you") when I hear people on the left wanting to equalize everything, want to redistribute our country's wealth, speaking of wealthy people as if they're all evil and should be forced by the government to give their hard-earned money to others in order to make everything "fair." (Granted, not all wealthy people earned their money fairly or through hard work, but I believe a lot of them endured the sacrifices, hard decisions, and sleepless nights that helped them to build their wealth.) A wealthy person should be free to give or not give, as dictated by conscience. Yes, there will always be poor people - history and scientific/sociological studies have all but proven this to be true. No amount of government assistance or wealth redistribution is going to change this fact. If you're going to quote Jesus, you have to remember that he never advocating the government forcing individuals to give to the poor. It was all to be done out of love and gratitude and a desire to sacrifice for the sake of others.

Wait - did I go off on a tangent there? Sorry. I guess you hit a hot button issue with me.

As for Christmas itself, it makes me sad that you don't enjoy it. Without intending to sound Pollyanish here -- could you maybe figure out what the holiday means to you, personally, then focus on that and do your best to ignore the obscene commercialism that has overtaken our country? My hope is that you can find your own joy in the season and block out the ugly aspects of the season that surrounds you.