My Christmas Every Day experiment is starting to get awkward.
Advent hasn’t even started yet, but Christmas’ crazed and over-weight relative Consumerism is already in town, on the news, and wasting your gasoline and money as he drives all around town shopping.
Meanwhile, I’m crowding with others in the cozy chapel, savoring peace and quiet and adoring God’s goodness while we pray for wisdom about how to revive radical Gospel living.
My Christmas ever day experiment is not about Santas, shopping, or catchy commercials. Yet, while these things become more prevalent, I am becoming afraid that any uttering of “Merry Christmas” that I make might be mistaken for an approval of the petty parts of the holiday happening prematurely. The truth is that I really do not approve of any Christmas consumerism or other commotion that distracts from Jesus Christ.
Last week one one of my students innocently asked me a very normal question. He poked his head through my classroom door while he waited for his bus after school. “Sister,” he said “are you going shopping on Black Friday?” He was probably trying to spark a conversation.
I was impolite. “Ha, that might be one of the funniest questions I have been asked all year! Why would you ever think I would do that!?” I honestly thought he was joking.
Of course, it only occurred to me much later that the student was asking a very ordinary, culturally appropriate question. And, I realized, my response may have seemed a bit uncultured, bizarre or down-right rude. (God have mercy!)
I shuddered with shame as I realized my insensitivity. The thing is, the kid pushed my button. I assumed the student knew me and that I am trying to live a counter-cultural life, understood all my values, and in spite of his youth, he was already dissecting the cultural norms that conflict with Christianity. He’s a smart kid— so, fair mistake, right?!
All of the emphasis on materialism this time of year really does make me squirm. I am pretty sure I saw my first Christmas commercial that reminded people about layaway back in September. I probably could have given out Christmas candy for Halloween, if only I had I asked a shopkeeper for some, since candy canes appeared on the shelves right on November 1st. And now, even though we’re still in November, jolly Christmas carols seem to be chiming through speakers all around town trying to get us in the mood to shop, shop, shop. I even heard a radio show host joking about how Christmas already came and went, since it happens around Veteran’s Day now.
If holiday seasons are supposed to stick to a schedule, we have reasons to be disturbed.
Or, more importantly, when we remember what Christmas is really all about, we have reasons to resist.
Christmas everyday, and Christmas in general, is all about celebrating the Incarnation. Love was made manifest in human flesh. Jesus Christ is God and God came to earth in the most humble and simple of ways. There’s generosity, joy, community, peace, trust, lots of love and pure, human fun wrapped up in the real meaning of the ancient story of Christ’s coming:
This is the type of Christmas I am craving and I am committed to carrying out through the end of 2013: a counter-cultural and communal Christ-centered celebration! I hope you would join me, even though I’ll admit it’s much easier to talk about these ideas than to do them, when consumerism’s temptations are around every corner.
- Collecting donations for anyone who needs anything: some of my students hosted a food drive last week and will host another one in December.
- Honoring children: I am eager to spend time with my godchildren and if anyone asks me what I want for Christmas I’m ready to tell them that I want donations to Tubman House for Christmas.
- Praying for peace: several times a day, especially during my assigned adoration hours.
- Connecting to the tough parts in the Christmas story: advocating for immigration reform and standing up for anyone who is oppressed by violence.
- Spreading the Love: telling teens that they matter and I care about them, writing letters and cards, and being intentional about how I spend time with others.
- Hosting some celebrations : a Christmas party in my classroom on behalf of the orphans at Casa Hogar and hopefully hosting a gathering with other friends.
- Getting creative about how I give presents: re-gifting, buying things at thrift stores, making DIY crafts out of stuff I have around home, utilizing some of the resources from “Buy Nothing Christmas” and baking goodies to share.
- Resisting Black Friday: I shall instead celebrate Buy Nothing Day and I’m thinking about joining in on a protest, fast, or at least I’ll send a message of support to those who protest for just wages.
What will you do to resist Christmas’ consumerism and focus on the real reasons for the season?
Merry Christmas everyone!!