Is it just me, or does it seem like The Holidays are out to kill us? Leave it to America to take important spiritual and social events - holy days - and turn them into toxic, greed-driven bacchanals of materialism and excess.
The Holidays have traditionally been kicked off with Thanksgiving - a nationally instituted feast day of gratitude to God for His care and provision for us - and then capped off by New Year's Day - our annual assemblage of lies we tell ourselves about changes we will make in our personal lives. The tent pole of the whole thing is, of course, Christmas Day, ostensibly the day we celebrate the incarnation of our Lord.
These events themselves are good, even crucial elements of the human experience. It is right and good to stop, give thanks, celebrate our blessings and look boldly to the future. But, oh, what monsters these holidays have become.
Consider Thanksgiving. Feast days are good, even Biblical. But when we mistake material possessions for blessings and nationalism as our calling, we run amok. Don’t get me wrong - I love Thanksgiving. I love spending time with family and friends eating homemade food and enjoying the wonderful cacophony that comes with it. I love the freedom we have in this country. It’s a challenge for me to remind myself of the true blessings in my life; people and the time and resources to serve them. Those blessings are not something I am entitled to because I am American or even because I am Christian. They are a grace I do not deserve that is lavished on me by a loving God who designed me for more than consuming.
Let’s charge into the next month with clear eyes that are able to see through the cheap sentimentality and with souls that are shielded from greed.
For most of my life Thanksgiving has served as a sort of bulkhead holding back the tide of music, colors, symbols and sentiments of Christmastime. Not so much this year. Our country is in trouble, and according to the “experts” we won’t return to a healthy economy until normal people start spending more money (even if it means going into debt to do it).
Manufacturers and retailers rely on the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, traditionally kicked off with Black Friday, for a sickening percentage of their sales. When it comes to getting people to spend money that they don’t have to buy things that they don’t need, the gloves are off. These masters of mammon are spending millions of dollars to drive people to the stores on Thanksgiving Day! Christmas decorations have been up in stores since the day after Halloween and Christmas songs have been playing for weeks. How tragic that the birth of Jesus has become a rallying point for America’s true religion: consumerism.
I’m going to do my very best this season to avoid acquiescence to both these little green-and-red gods and the cynicism that could easily do just as much damage to my heart. Let’s prepare ourselves in advance of the spiritual affront these unholy days have become. Let’s charge into the next month with clear eyes that are able to see through the cheap sentimentality and with souls that are shielded from greed and the worship of comfort. Let’s find ways to connect on a deeper level with the people God has put in our lives. Let’s really contemplate the Incarnation and what that means to our personal and collective callings in the New Year. Let’s love each other better and the trappings of our materialistic culture less.
And if the economic system that has made us so fat and comfortable requires our capitulation to the demonic sentiments of consumerism, then maybe we can add its demise to the list of things we can be thankful for this year.