i had a bit of a Christmas freak out this morning. because tomorrow we will be out for most of the day, we decided to have our kids open our presents today. we only bought our children books, but as usual, friends and family bought the big ticket items for them: dress-up sets, bicycles, jewelry. you know, the stuff that they really love.
anyway, my flare up started when i had to unwrap and unpack a disney ballerina pretend set. i’m not a big fan of disney, and so i was already a little leery, but it was the infuriating packaging that really put me over the top. every piece of the set, the little pink crown, the little pink slippers, the little pink tutu, were secured to a cardboard box with plastic ties that had to be cut open. after they were cut, they scattered everywhere, leaving nearly invisible pieces of plastic everywhere. one after another, i cut the ties, picked up the remains, cut the ties, picked up the remains. by the 14th tie (no exaggeration), a truly terrible feeling was stirring deep within me. i ripped the last piece out of the box, brusquely handed it over to my daughter, who had been hovering over my shoulder the entire time, hair tickling the back of my neck. and then i proceeded to drop kick the box across the room.
again, no exaggeration.
i then began my charlie brown style rant: “is THIS what Christmas is all about? this…stuff? all this stuff?? how does this celebrate Christ in any way?” i then resolved in my mind that we would politely no longer accept presents from people during this season, and celebrate it solely in the spirit that it was intended – as a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, nothing more. i felt very right, and very moral in that moment, but have come to realize that i was anything but.
i understand Christmas purists, those who want people to remember and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, which is the birth of Christ, God’s greatest present to us. and i agree, believe me, i agree that the materialism of the holiday and the massive waste that it produces divorces us from that reality every year. i myself became something of a Christmas purist this morning…and something more: a Christmas grinch.
it is all well and good that we attempt to reclaim the spirit of Christmas, but it does not do any good to do so with a spirit of condemnation and disdain, looking down on or shaming those who celebrate Christmas generically. if we do that, we adhere to the letter of the law while not comprehending its spirit. an angry Christmas is as much of a violation of the birth of Christ as a generic one is, as part of the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be joy. the celebration of the birth of Christ is supposed to bring us greater joy, not less, increase our love for God and humanity, not decrease it. and i think very often, what drives us to try to reclaim Christmas is not our joy, but our rancor.
and be honest: who would want to celebrate the true Christmas with us, if we do so with scowls on our faces, and derision on our lips?
and so if i am going to be a Christmas purist in the future, which i do not discount becoming next year, i need do so by being MORE joyful, MORE generous, and singing MORE loudly than anyone is comfortable with. that is what a good Christmas purist should do, because Christ gives me more joy than anything that can be purchased…not less.