Saturday, December 25, 2010

Why Christmas SHOULD include gifts

Many people are affronted by the orgy of gift giving at Christmas. Some, Christians, think it should be more about remembering the birth of Jesus  - a solemn, pious occasion. Others, left-leaning, usually, don’t like the capitalist hype – buy buy buy – who can blame them?  Still others, misanthropes, curmudgeons, don’t enjoy Christmas at all, the pressure to spend time with families, the requirement for merriment, and worst of all, the expectation of giving the perfect gift. They prefer to wallow in their misery.

To all the above I say – you are missing the point.

First of all, Christians. Now I have admitted I’m an atheist, but I come to atheism from an informed position. Raised a Catholic, I can spout gospel with the best of them. I know the deal.  Yes, it’s true that gifts are mentioned in the Biblical Christmas (Matthew 2: 1-12) but that’s not the point either. Gifts should matter to Christians because of what they encourage you to do. Stop, think about someone, a friend, family member, a workmate, even someone you don’t know that well. Stop and think about what they might like, want, need. That moment you spend thinking of someone else is the real Christmas gift.

Now capitalism, well, that’s a cop out. Don’t like capitalism? MAKE a gift you useless pinko turd. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?) Is it really so hard? I love home-made gifts.  I love them for how they make me feel. I love them because every time I look at them I imagine that person making that picture frame, hand painted card, pair of earrings for me. I know at that moment they are thinking of me. And that makes me feel good. I think of you thinking of me. What could be more socially progressive than that?

Finally to all you curmudgeons, Scrooges, misanthropes and Grinches: the reason you don’t like the pressure to find the perfect gift is because you don’t like thinking about anyone other than yourself. I would suggest that if you just tried it, you might find you are no longer a miserable sod. You might find yourself with nothing to wallow in but goodwill toward all men.

Finally, spare a thought for those who love Christmas in all its gloss and glitter and would love to give a Christmas gift or two, but can’t because they can’t afford the money or time.  If you don’t like choosing gifts for people or don’t like the commercialism of Christmas, or want to put a little Christ back into Christmas, march yourself down to a charity and give time, money, handmade or store bought gifts. You will enjoy thinking of how lucky you are that you are giving to instead of relying on these charities. Someone will enjoy giving them on your behalf and at that moment, they will be thinking of you, whoever and wherever you are. If that’s too much for you, and you prefer pain to panis angelicus, roll up your sleeve, give blood, and think about how good it is to be alive.

Because that’s what giving at Christmas is all about. At Christmas it really IS the thought that counts.

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