And So This Is Christmas
I annoy people at Christmas. I don’t celebrate, I don’t buy in. It’s too much to buy. Life is complicated enough without the stress of a prove-you-love-me holiday. And that’s what it is: it’s Christmas, what did you get for me? How much did I get to prove I am worthy, loved.
No. Just no.
I feel the same way about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. If you need to be reminded to show me that you love me, is that really love? Or some other post-modern-material-world mechanism to boost the economy.
Seriously. We stopped the official Christmas madness years ago. We eat dinner together. We buy things for each other throughout the year, when we have more cushion in the budget. We share our abundance, whatever comes our way, when it comes. We don’t feel bad because we couldn’t afford this or that. We share rides and meals and time. All for one and one for all. This approach has reduced the stress, all around.
Even my grandchildren get it. I take them to museums, on trips, and out to dinner throughout the course of the year; it’s all a gift. They, in turn, do things for me: tote laundry, pull weeds, bathe a bull mastiff, move heavy furniture in the pouring rain. These are gifts and they give them freely. Willingly. No guilt, or expectation on either side. It is a different way to live today.
I invited my youngest son, Ian, over for dinner on Christmas. He responded with, I didn’t buy anyone anything, I just started a new job, I have no gifts. I told him, without hesitation, the gift of your company is enough. And I meant it.
And so we broke bread together on Christmas. Well, we didn’t really break bread because I forgot to buy it. But we communed. Those who wanted to be here came and those who didn’t, didn’t. No expectations. Except maybe the bread part…
This approach to “religious” holidays has, in many ways, left me jaded. Why do you need All. Those. Lights? Why? People are hungry, people are cold, dying. And you are heating the air with a thousand lights. It cuts the night dims the very stars that could, would lead you to contact with a God or universe to be explored, loved.
Why do you need a TV and Xbox in every room? Why do you need to destroy whole forests to cover the too-expensive gifts that will soon leave you feeling used and taken advantage of? Our planet is dying—and we are cutting down trees—forests—to cover gifts with paper, that we will use once and then toss away.
And it’s not that I don’t think the life of Jesus of Nazareth should be celebrated; I do. But would He do it this way? What would he think if he saw you drive by hungry people on the side of the road en route to purchase the fifth TV for your house? Jesus is a savior in that he is a role model… He wasn’t saying follow me—he was saying live like me. Reach out, commune, all for one…
When people ask me if I am a Christian, I respond with “Christian like Jesus.” Giving. Trusting. Loving. Radical. Political. Spiritual. Not afraid to speak my mind, live my truth. You should try it, it is an amazing way to live. I strive to be Buddhist like Gautama. I listen to the Dali Lama and draw from his wisdom, but then I allow myself to draw from the wisdom of John Lennon and Cat Stevens, Tupac, Kennedy, Pope Francis, Assisi. We are all one. We are all stardust in a universe so vast. So very vast. And yet, one small act of kindness here or there can ripple and create change of such magnitude. Tsunamis of love. For better or worse.
And so this is Christmas and what have you done?