Frigid temperatures and endless commercials and advertisements tempting us to max out our credit cards before the great deals pass us by are just subtle reminders that it’s Christmastime once again. We’ve had this discussion before, but it seems to come earlier and earlier each year.
Retailers are like the wisemen who come from afar. They know that if we begin our shopping early, we will buy more because it won’t seem to take such a bite from our budget all at once. If we spend it over a greater period of time, they have a better shot at getting it all.
Oh! Does my assessment of the capitalistic view of the holidays sound cynical? Honestly, I don’t intend for it to be. I truly believe in capitalism. It’s what keeps the economy moving. Jobs, services and all the niceties that they bring can be a good thing. It keeps food on the tables, lights and heat in our homes as well as cars in our driveways and gasoline to make those cars go. It just seems to me that something gets lost in all the chaos we create while trying to make a dollar.
I hear it all the time from the “old timers” — now my generation — as how fortunate they felt to awaken on Christmas morning and find an orange and maybe a whistle in their stocking under the tree. Many I’ve met speak of having nothing for Christmas but food on the table and love for one another. Some I have spoken with confessed to not even having that.
I remember my parents speaking so fondly of the “good old days,” and I remember thinking, “Are you out of your mind?” Now here I am reflecting on those times, too. Funny how time changes your outlook.
My parents always made certain we had a nice Christmas. They would sometimes take on extra work to make it happen, and while I don’t necessarily remember the individual gifts, I do remember the spirit around home during the season. Even the animals on the farm seemed to be a little more cheerful. Maybe we were just nicer people during Christmas. Just maybe.
I remember my brother and I getting matching bicycles one Christmas. Much later I found out that they were previously owned, and Santa bought them on time, much like we do today with credit cards. Learning that bit of history just made it even more special knowing how hard Mom and Dad had worked to make it happen.
Christmas programs at school and church seemed much more special then, too. I recall at one Christmas program at Bethel Community Church on Pondlick Road, we were short one wise man in our program. The program director recruited a “wise guy” to play the part. That was our father. He had a great sense of humor, but taking part in a children’s Christmas program was not something we could ever imagine him doing, but he did. He pulled out an old pastel robe and a towel for his head wrapping, and he was instantly transformed into a wise man. That’s a treasured memory for us.
Somewhere along the line, the joy and the truest meaning of Christmas has gotten lost. Perhaps the mountain of gifts we now shower our children and grandchildren with has created a certain expectancy from the present generation. The only way this year’s gift-giving can be successful is to make it greater than last year? Let’s face it. We created this animal. What’s even worse, many don’t see a problem.
Christmas is about the spirit of the season. It’s about a baby born many years ago with no pomp or circumstance. No hospital, no midwife or nurse-maid, no medical personnel at all, but a mission: a mission to save generations to come from sin, and to instill joy in their hearts – not just at Christmas, but all year long.
As I write this, I am reminded that of all the people I know who need this message, I need it most. As we take time to reflect on ways to become better people, I recall the prayer of an old farmer who said, “Lord, all I ask is that you let me become the person that my dog thinks I am.”
Don’t say anything, just think about it.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. He can be heard Tuesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon on 88.7 WOBO-FM and can be reached at HEKAMedia@yahoo.com.