12.07.2008

Christmas: The Problems and The Hypocrisy

Many people have heard my views on Christmas.  But hopefully I can enlighten you on an alternate view, as the advent season has started and the long-awaited day creeps closer and closer.

Christmas.  How much I desire it.  How can I not?  It is the epicenter of happiness and tradition.  We sing joyously these tales of happiness, giving love to each other and taking part in the giving attitude of the season.  Truly, this is a pure resemblance of what Christ did for us, giving wholly of himself, seeking nothing in return.

That IS what Christmas is about...correct?

Friday, November 28th.  Thanksgiving has been over for about five hours now.  The dishes have been cleaned, leftovers put away, and at this early hour lines form outside in the bitter cold, waiting for the sales on merchandise in the stores.
Ah yes, Black Friday.  Corporate heaven, employee hell.  The start of the Christmas season (if not earlier).  The start of this joyous feeling.
I was standing outside ABC Warehouse.  The doors had just opened and those of us who had been dutifully standing in line were ushed in by the store manager.  He was doing a remarkable job of making sure that only those who had been in line were getting in the store, while those late comers who were attempting to squeeze were sent to the back of the line.
One middle age man who was not in line (but wanted to get in the store) was very unhappy about this set up.  He strongly desired to get in the store and make his purchase.  He found disfavor with one certain young man...
Young man: "Back of the line! We've been waiting!"
Middle age man: "F*** off!"
Young man: "Excuse me?  What did you say to me?"
Middle age man: "You heard me.  I told you to p*** off!  And that's not just to you.  That's to everyone here!"

Merry Christmas, anyone?

I'm sure we've all heard the Jdimnytai Damour story.  The man was working at Wal-mart and was trampled by some people eagerly embracing the Christmas spirit.  Perhaps I should emphasize that.  Someone was killed over some $2 DVDs.  Really?  Could no one realize "O hey, I'm stepping on this man's face."  I wonder if those people had ever murdered before.  I imagine they're all proud of the fact that they saved $8 on a movie...and killed a man.  I'm sure that movie will that much more enjoyable.  AND!  The storied that can be told!  I'm sure they'll be telling that one for ages.  "Did I ever tell you the story about how I helped trample a man to death to save $8 on a movie?  O, those were the days."

I am often called a Scrooge.  And I have become very fond of that name.  Because in watching the character of Scrooge, I note some very interesting things.  Mostly I came to this understanding after watch a play called "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge" by Mark Brown.  And in it are some very fascinating points that I think have validity.  If every you get the chance to read or watch the play, I reccomend it.  FYI.

Perhaps I am uncultured, but I do not believe that need raises much more on Christmas day than on other days.  Except for things like extra heating and clothing (which we can attribute to the weather, not the day of the year).  But I don't think I need any statistics to say quite accurately that the average person gives more to churches or other organizations during the Chrsitmas season than during other times of the year.  Again, perhaps I am ignorant, but I doubt that many people use all of their Christmas bonuses for charity.  So that must mean that they have some of the money to use the rest of the year...hmm....

I am a college aged, American boy.  I come from a middle middle class rural-suburban home.  I have a part time job.  I have some scholarships.
I do not recall the last time I went without needing something.  I do not recall the last time I counted dimes to pay the electric bill.  In fact, I have never paid the electric bill.  Or any bill, for that matter, except for school.  But my parents are taking care of most of that anyway.  I have never slept outside in fear that an angry parent would abuse me in my sleep.  I have never begged a stranger for food because I hadn't eaten for so long.  I have never gone barefoot because my shoes are too worn out to stay on my feet.

I also do not remember the last time I did not get a Christmas present.  Or the last time I did not give a present to a family memeber, all of whom are in essentially identical situations.  We do not need.  But we give gifts to each other.

Some interesting statistics.
As of yesterday (12/6/08) the National Debt was over $10.6 trillion.
Americans spend about $450 billion on Christmas.  Every year.
It would take about $10 billion to get pure water to the entire world.

I will freely admit that I do not contribute as much as I should.  Not NEARLY as much as I should.  Right now I'm still trying to figure out this whole "life" thing.  No, that's not a good excuse.  And I don't use it as excuse at all.  I use it as something that I can work towards.  And it's hard for me.  I'm busy and when I'm not busy I want to rest and be lazy and selfish.  If nothing else, I'm honest.  But I'm working towards doing more.  This past school year I helped at a local school with an after school program.  This Christmas I'm going to be helping at the Salvation Army or some other organization.  In the summer I'm trying to get a job at a summer camp.  These are different needs that need to be met.  But we each have our parts.

Hopefully this all makes sense.  I write this not to throw abstract ideals at you, but to help you see another reality.

Such is the case with the Invisible Children.  Thousands of children that must daily seek refuge from miltaristic rebels that will strip them of everything and force them to kill.  Or be killed.  But who has heard of this devestating catastrophe?  Everyone has heard of the War in Iraq.  But...children killing people?  That doesn't happen!  Does it...?


It does.

Be aware.  That's all I ask.  Realize that Christmas has become more than a time of giving and happiness.  For me, every Chrsitmas song, every tree, string of lights, wreath, decoration, is a reminder of what we have become.  Stagnant.  Desensitized.  Desiring everything, needing nothing.

Tyler Durden from fight club has a well said statement about what we have lost in being human.  I want to change it a little.  "[Chrsitmas]  has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s*** we don't need."

Just think about that...