Is the Christmas season just a capitalist-driven spending spree? Do we use Christmas as an excuse to be gluttons? Are our children taught to be shallow materialists by the mordern christmas experience? Is there any genuine 'goodwill to all men' at Christmas or is that just flimsy, pretend self-praise?
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I think that Christmas has different meanings for different people. Of course, the real purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. To many, Christmas is about buying gifts for people that are important to us. It is also getting together with family and having a good time and making memories. I do not see any harm in this.
It all depends on what the Christmas Season means to you. For my family and I, it isn't the birth of Jesus that we celebrate but a time for family and friends. My friends and I do Christmas in Chicago so we can see everyone together, and at home we are with our families and friends. It is, for us at least, a time to show how much we all love each other and how happy we are and grateful that we have the people we do in our lives. Some people are all about the presents, some are all about the religious aspects. I wouldn't lose hope or faith in the Christmas spirit overall, just know there are different ways to approach it.
Every culture seemed to have some sort of celebration. The Romans used to give presents to celebrate the coming of the new year; maybe the intent was to wish everybody well and "provide enough" for a good start as the calendar turned; they were doing this a bit before Capitalism developed. Maybe it's now morphed into gluttony, but the season seems to have always, across cultures and times, involved some form of feasting and gifting and revelling. And surprisingly, all these different cultures had done enough Sun measurement and knew enough to know, unlike us, that the year ended when the shortest day ended. And so began the process of establishing each culture's now traditional rituals. But appreciate this time of year beyond the rituals that overwhelm and obscure it -- strive to celebrate the Holiday Season properly, and especially remember the true meaning of Christmas------the Winter Solstice. Ho! Ho! Ho!
To me, Christmas is a time for family to gather from far and wide and reconnect. We don't go in for gifting for the most part, although we certainly do eat well! We have never been churchgoers, although the generosity of spirit associated with Christmas is always part of our celebrations. We also give a joint charitable gift each year to give something back to the community.
I understand your points, and I do feel many families treat Christmas as a time of year to spend way too much money, and spoil themselves and childern. But there are may other people and families that give to charities, volunteer a food banks and shelters, give gifts to families in need. Living in Hawaii I see a lot of both. I have a huge mall, Ala Moana Shopping Center, with high end stores, and the place was a mad house weeks leading up to Christmas, but on the other end the news stations and news papers advertised and helped out with a charity program called Lokahi, which in Hawaiian means harmony, balace, and unity. Hawaii has a spirit of Ohana, family, most people here especially the ones that are native to Hawaii, give to others that are not their blood family, but here everyone in your community is family. If everyone had this type of spirit at Christmas, but all year round, then we would truly be enjoying this season.
I think there are some that use Christmas as an excuse to overindulge in gifts, etc., and who do not celebrate it for the reason that it is a holiday to begin with; however, I ultimately believe in the good in people and find comfort knowing that there are also so many that still remember why Christmas is a holiday and the importance of it.
There is a great bumper sticker I usually see at Christmastime..."Keep Christ in Christmas", and each time I see it I have mixed emotions. First I think... cool thought, and then I think how sad it is that our society has a mass produced bumper sticker to remind us of the spirit of Christmas. As an historian I understand the history behind Christmas, which for the most part puts a damper on the spiritual side of the holiday (not for materialistic reasons but political ones) Of course there are those that cannot see beyond the materialistic, but as for me I think I retain the spirit of Christmas and as such have passed it along to my own children as well as my students. It is true that a part of Christmas has fallen into the grips of our capitalist society, the bumper stickers are proof of that. However, let us not be fearful for I believe that there is still enough 'good' in humanity amidst the 'bad' to keep the spirit of Christmas alive.
If people fall into the capitalist-driven hype, then no they are probably not getting everything they can from the Holiday Season. In my family we have traditions and celebrate these traditions each year. If your heart is in receiving and not in giving then you are missing the whole idea. I give much more than I receive in "presents" because I enjoy giving, yet, I don't spend a lot of money. I give time to neighbors, I give gifts that I know my friends will appreciate. I have a friend who is married and has three children. for Christmas I gave them an evening out while I watched the kids. It didn't cost me anything but time, but they really enjoyed an evening out together. I cleared my sidewalk, and just kept going down the street and cleared the sidewalks of two of my neighbors. Then I gave them a card and told them Merry Christmas. There are a lot of things we can do that don't mean buying, buying, buying. JMO
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