With the silly season fast approaching, have you ever stopped and asked yourself, is Christmas still really Christmas? Are we, as a society, truly giving the gift of giving by spending copious amounts of our hard earned dollars to buy gifts for family and friends who, while I’m sure they love their presents, don’t really need them? Should we stop spending our money on consumerist and materialistic items or should we be making more of an effort to really give back to our communities at Christmas time?
I’d like to think that at least some of us would pause and consider the possibility of donating their time and money rather than just buying that $150 wallet or $500 iPad. This doesn’t go to say that I’m a saint that has descended from the pine-scented and honey-baked ham heavens to donate my time and money to others during the happiest time of the year because, well, I don’t. I’m guilty of succumbing to and indeed enabling the societal and cultural norms surrounding Christmas whereby I shower my family and friends with lavish gifts. Last year alone I spent close to $500 on presents. Who does that?! It’s crazy! Could you imagine the kinds of things that amount of money could do for people who are struggling? And by struggling people I’m not just talking about the swollen-bellied, fly covered orphans you see on the World Vision ads plastered all over our television screens during the happy season. I’m talking about the local homeless or animal shelters that have become inundated and are unable to cope. Shouldn’t I be more concerned with helping them at Christmas rather than filling the stockings of my siblings with useless trinkets and food? The simple and harsh truth is that so much of society has been programmed not to think of Christmas this way. I have no doubt that if you were to ask a child tomorrow what comes to mind when they think of Christmas, a lot of them will respond with answers like Santa or presents or decorations. Very few will actually know the true meaning of Christmas (I swear I’m not at all religious by the way) and how it’s time to be truly thankful for all that we have and to share what we can with those less fortunate than ourselves.
Maybe my cynicism is just getting the better of me here but you can’t deny the chord of truth that’s struck here. We can all do more to help people but we don’t and I’m no better than anyone else. Maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe I don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on presents this year. Maybe I’ll make my presents and donate the money I would normally spend.