With Thanksgiving behind us, we’ve officially began “the crazy season,” the time of year when religious holidays usher in a month-long celebration of crass commercialism.
Hardly a new or insightful thought but there it is. We recognize this season for what it is, moan about it and yet, take part in it each and every year. As my children have grown, it’s gotten a bit easier to avoid the ‘must-have’ Christmas toys and accompanying materialistic madness. The days of “Tickle Me Elmo” (which I guess means something totally different now that the official Elmo puppeteer has resigned in the wake of accusations he’s had underage sex with at least two young teenage boys) are over. Now it’s more like, “Dad, tickle my wallet.”
Which I do but I also balance that by buying my kids (really, no pun intended) a goat or a sheep or even a llama. I don’t really give them an animal but I make the donation in our family name to Heifer International which gives said animals to poor communities around the globe where it really makes a difference.
But of course, that’s not enough. As high-minded as my intentions are, I still find myself giving commercial gifts. Part of it is pure human nature — it feels good to give a present to someone you love or like. But I’ve realized that giving presents forces us to consider why we give presents….we begin to think kindly of one another and that alone is something that’s different from the rest of the year, at least for most of us. It may not be as heavy as ‘love one another’ but sometimes ‘like one another’ is good enough.
So the crazy season is upon us and, much as we hate to admit it, it serves a purpose — we think of one another in a way that is more balanced and less judgmental. It may be the one time of year when that happens and that’s sad but, you know what, at least it happens once a year and for that, I’ll put up with all the crass commercialism in the world.
For what it’s worth, one of my favorite Christmas songs has a very similar sentiment. It’s The Flaming Lips’ “A Change at Christmas (Say It Ain’t So).”
And the world embraces peace and love and mercy
Instead of power and fear
And as sure as I’m standing here
I swear it really does appear that a change comes over us
Yes, some kind of change comes over us
And it’s glimpsed for one shining moment
And this change feels like a change that’s real
But then it passes along with the season
And then we just go back to the way we were
Yes, we just go back to the way we were