Have We Lost the Meaning of Christmas?
The Grinch is slowly becoming one of my favorite Christmas characters. As a middle-aged woman who is feeling more bittersweet about the holidays the older I get, I feel myself questioning what all the running around is even about.
This week I found myself, like many of you, rushing to the mall in a shopping frenzy trying to nail down the perfect gift. Weeks leading up to this week I fed myself lies about how I was going to opt-out of gift-giving this year, only to find myself in the holiday rush like I do every year.
The Christmas spirit is nowhere to be seen at the mall. Big bows and stocking stuffers are thrown in our faces as we walkabout. Looking around for what we can afford, our stress rises and the overwhelm of choices takes control. We try to shop with a conscience while living on a made it china budget.
I get caught in the rush, but like most people, I seek something deeper as I succumb to the pressure of the holiday gift brigade.
- Am I going to be the only one to show up without a gift to the holiday party?
- Am I the one to be labeled a Grinch?
- And what if the Grinch is right? What if someone came and stole everything from your home?
- Is that what it would take to see the meaning? A thief?
- What if instead you simply decided no gifts this year? Do you think it would ruin the holiday? Or perhaps mean a little bit more?
I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas this week and found myself feeling like him. Annoyed with the sounds, the facade, the desperate plea to keep the magic alive for the young ones in our lives. I feel more tuned into the stress, depression, and anxiety of pressure to conform. Where have we gone astray?
I have so much to be grateful for and am trying to keep sight of the people in my life who are the real gifts. But just because I’ve hit this milestone doesn’t mean everybody else has. Christmas is the most anticipated time of a young person’s life, yet I am left feeling like we have turned a gift from Santa into a huge array of never-ending gift-giving that is leaving us hollow.
In a time where it is clear that human life is disposable, where we value things over people, is Christmas really store bought?
Where is the spirit of Christmas when we walk over homeless people living outside in the cold to arrive at a function filled with an overabundance of stuff? Trees are cut down for our pleasure and outdated rituals control our actions and thoughts.
What are we celebrating? And what legacy are we teaching our youth by doing so?
As you go about your holiday this year, take a moment to reflect on those unable to find joy in the season. Take a moment and see other humans walking through this world, not just objects we pass on the street or mindless cars traveling about.
We live in a very challenging time and joy will not be found in the hearts of many. We have become polarized and live in pursuit of showing affection through things because no one has taught us any other way.
I know this sounds grim, and it’s kind of where I’m at today, but I do believe the Christmas spirit is still alive. I do believe that peace on Earth is possible. I do believe in the kindness of strangers and the unending joy of children on Christmas Day.
I also believe that change starts with us. I encourage you to stop stressing over the perfect present and offer instead the greatest of gifts… Your presence in the lives of those you love.
We are living in a time of change, and perhaps now is the perfect time to reel in our long-held Christmas traditions for more meaningful gifts of the heart. I wrote a list, 6 Ways to Gift From the Heart, and am doing my part to bring about the change I’d like to see in my holiday experience. Changes I believe will bring me and those I love most more connection and peace.
The truth is I see the spirit of Christmas daily. I saw it today when a stranger held the door for me at the grocery store. I saw it in the eyes of a mother watching her child skip down the street. I see it in the affection my honey bun bestows upon our cats. The Spirit is alive and can be drawn out of all of us at any given moment.
Time spent in the company of love spreads joy faster and can heal deep wounds. It does appear that Christmas is bought in a store, but once you widen your vision, just like the Grinch, you will find that maybe Christmas means a little bit more.