The Season of Giving…But To Whom?
“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more”. –Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This Christmas, I’ve had a really hard time with the concept of buying gifts for friends and family. I can’t get over the fact that we are all lucky enough to have more than we could ever possibly need, yet we are still in a state of constant want. We’re like hungry dogs, drooling at the site of human food, while a bowl sits next to them overflowing with dog food. The question begs, when will it all be good enough? What will it take for us to be satiated? The truth is, as long as we want, our thirst for the new and sensational will never be quenched.
It’s no secret that Americans live in a world of excess. We have the biggest houses and vehicles, we eat too much, drink too much, we have excess clothes, excess debt and we use too many natural resources. Unfortunately, the excess is only perpetuated during the holiday season. It really is difficult to remove ourselves from the Christmas chaos, and to reflect on what the season is truly about. We know why we celebrate Christmas; it’s the how we celebrate that needs revisiting. As a culture, we have lost the true spirit of Christmas, and replaced it with a purely material one.
On Thanksgiving, I came across an image on Facebook that said, “If you are not content today, there is nothing you can buy this weekend to change that”. Americans are furiously trying to fill a void. There is a deep down inadequacy that can only be filled (albeit temporarily) by consumption. There is a feeling of victory when we have acquired the object of our obsession, only to be replaced once again with want when that item is overshadowed by the next object of our obsession. But if we stop to think, we may realize that that void is caused by a spiritual emptiness, not a material one. It is challenging in our culture to be truly content with what we have; to not be in a constant state of want.
Part of overall wellness is spiritual wellness. In some ways, Christmas can be damaging to the spirit because for some it heightens the want hungry in all of us. This desire is a waste of energy and in the end, all the stuff simply doesn’t matter.
This year I decided to do something drastic. I decided I am absolutely not buying any gifts for any adults. I just can’t–not with all those out there who have nothing. All the money I would have spent on gifts, I am donating to a charity on behalf of my friends and family. And if someone absolutely insists on getting a gift for me, then I absolutely insist they donate on my behalf.
My challenge to you is simple: Find a way to give this holiday season. If you can’t quite buy into the no-gifts idea, find a way to donate your time, your money, your skills, anything! You’ll find that not only does your gift bring immense joy to the person who receives it, but it will bring you joy as well. You’ll find that the people who have nothing appreciate even the simplest of gifts so much more than those who already have it all.
There are various people in my life who do this already. My family goes out and buys lots of toys every year to put into the Toys-For-Tots collection boxes. I know people who volunteer at PADS, and others who take their children to the local food pantry to help out. Animal shelters love when you bring them old towels and blankets, and newspapers. Once you open up to the idea of it, you’ll find opportunities all over the place. Do what whatever you can, and take a moment to be grateful for what you have. Enjoy the opportunity to give to those less fortunate.
Have a very merry, and spiritually-fulfilling holiday season.
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Jamie and Cassie