Christmas has been getting an increasingly bad rap over the years, but this doesn’t come as a surprise after examining what the Christmas and holiday season has become. Christmas has been under the reigns of consumerism for quite some time, but it’s gotten to the point where it has become more synonymous with images of going broke and annoyingly catchy advertisement jingles than with the true magic and splendor of what Christmas is supposed to be. People are starting to give up on the holiday, but there’s always hope. Put down the check books and the wish lists and try to remember what Christmas truly means.
One of the most important things to remember is your family: it’s like that gift that keeps on giving, even when you’re begging for it not to. Stop looking at your drunk aunt’s Christmas dinner rants and your little sister’s tragic emo phase as burdens that you are forced to endure when the holidays bring families a little too close together.
Look at these awkward moments in your life as one of the best Christmas gifts that you could ever have, because one day you’re going to look back and regret that you didn’t appreciate the time that slipped through your fingers. Instead of acting like you’re above the drama, embrace your inherent dysfunctionality and join in the festivities. After all, the apple never falls far from the tree, now does it?
Yes, Thanksgiving is so last month by now, but it’s always been irking how the day after Americans celebrate how thankful they are for what they have, that they rush into stores and won’t think twice about punching a five-year-old toddler in the face for a $3.00 discount on a flat screen high-definition television. Don’t complain when you don’t get the Galaxy SIII instead of the iPhone (first world problems much?) and learn how to fake a smile when your grandmother gets you another pair of ugly Christmas socks for the 10th year in a row. Don’t let the gratitude escape after Thanksgiving and be thankful for what you have. Think about how many people go without gifts this Christmas season and think about what you can give instead of asking for. There are plenty of toy drives for children at local stores, charities and religious organizations, not to mention that sometimes all you have to give is a little bit of your time. The winter season is one of the busiest times for homeless shelters and soup kitchens, so volunteers are always welcome. The best gift is really the joy that you receive when you give to others.
Dionne Warwick was right when she sang that “what the world needs now is love.” Of course, that song was written during a time when “free love” was abundant as bad hairdos and questionable fashion choices, but let’s talk about the unconditional, less physical kind of love. Whether you celebrate Christmas for religious reasons or not, the core and persistent theme of the Christmas season is love. It’s a time of sacrifice, forgiveness and respect for your fellow man and womankind. Take this time to figure out how you can show how much you care for the people in your life and try to see people less for their differences from you and try to find a way to connect yourself to others rather than separating yourself from them. It doesn’t have to be a beautifully wrapped gift, either. Just showing that you’re there for someone and being someone that others can look to in times of need can make someone’s Christmas way more special than any present ever could.
Stephen Margelony-Lajoie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.