It is the Christmas season. There is glitter everywhere, trees are decorated, lights are lit, malls have long lines for a photo with Santa. The shops are persistently playing Christmas carols to attract shoppers. Gifts are being bought, wrapped and readied. Some already given, some anticipated with baited breath.
I don’t remember being a kid waiting for the gifts to be opened. My parents were not big on showering us with Christmas gifts. Infact, I don’t remember them buying us any gifts for Christmas. My Christmas memory with parents is loading our car full of gifts for those lesser privileged than we were. We would drive to the village my dad grew up in and go from house to house distributing cakes and other goodies. My dad was most excited to visit a childhood friend who lived in a hut back in the village – he loved the excitement of the friend’s children when they got these annual goodies.
My parents taught me that Christmas is about sharing with those who don’t have, showing the compassion and love that Jesus brought to the world. That, they said, is the true spirit of Christmas.
In modern times, Christmas is all about commerce. Have you made your shopping lists? How many gifts have you bought? How quickly are you running from one shop to another to get the perfect gift for the long line of people on your list? Businesses take advantage of this and decorate their shops, attract shoppers with discount sales and interest free loans and such.
Not to say we shouldn’t give gifts to those we love. Christmas is a special occasion and one way of celebrating it with family is to share what we have. But the modern society seems to overdo it and the priority of Christmas has become the piles and piles of Christmas gifts under the tree. Let us not be obsessed with the materialistic pleasures of Christmas, and take the time to remember what baby Jesus actually stood for - spreading love and happiness to the poor, the needy and the sick.
It is my daughter Myrah’s first Christmas. And I am beginning to think how I want her to celebrate Christmas. I haven’t bought her any gifts, I don’t intend to. When she grows up she may want one, like all her friends. And I may buy her some. But I also want to teach her that Christmas is not about the glitter and wrapped gifts. It is about giving - not just receiving - and more importantly, showing love through the giving. It is about giving to the food banks, visiting seniors’ homes, sharing the good news of Christmas. I want her to know that amidst all the celebrations of the birth of this baby, we have to remember why he was born – and spread the love and joy and compassion that he brought to the world.
Wishing all of you a very meaningful and joyous Christmas season!