"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Perhaps Christmas Means a Little Bit More .....

I was going to title this post let the holiday shopping season begin ..... but I don't think that will be my world so much this year.
I did go out on Black Friday and I got some really good deals on things the kids wanted for Christmas (I can't list those here, just in case this is the one post my teenager decides to read). It was a completely insane experience. The lines to get into the stores at the mall were at least a half-mile long, the parking lots were complete full at 12:30 am. In Massachusetts, Blue Laws do not allow stores to open on Thanksgiving (I hope this doesn't ever change) so people were chomping at the bit to get into the stores. Since my husband and I are not crazy Black Friday people we waited in the car until almost 1:00 am and then went into two stores when the lines went down and went home. I went back out later in the day to do my shopping. And this is what a lot of people don't pay attention to - most of the sale prices last all day. Since none of the "door busters" were things I wanted to purchase I had all the time in the world to shop. And I am now done with all the things I have to purchase (except of course for the stockings - but I can pick those things up anytime).
That being said it is time to go down the rest of my list -
hostess gifts
aunts & uncles
kids of the cousins, friends, etc.
and so on and so on and so on ......
This year I have decided hand-made will do. I have a new addiction .... Pinterest. I have found some GREAT ideas! And the best part is I have all the materials on hand to make what I want to make. I know that some people will say this is a cheap way out - but I disagree. I think this is exactly what Christmas is all about. Sharing with friends and family - share your time, share your creativity, share stories and friendship. It is the connection of caring with $$$$ that has destroyed Christmas.
St. Nicholas was a Greek Christian in the village of Patar (this is now part of Turkey - but at the time was part of Greece). He eventually became a Bishop and spent his life counseling the poor, helping people who needed it both spiritually and economically.

Over the years the stories of this "saint" traveled the world and was brought to America by Christopher Columbus (who named a port in Haiti after St. Nicolas on December 6th - this date would eventually become St. Nicolas Day).
The first stories of St. Nicolas flying from the north in a sleigh with reindeer appeared in 1821 and then in 1823 a poem was written: "A Visit from St. Nicholas." It described St. Nicolas like this:
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
Yes, this was later renamed "The Night Before Christmas."
Eventually the churches began associating the legends and stories of St. Nicholas (the trees, stockings, gifts, the new "jolly old elf" image) as part of their Christmas celebrations to increase attendance at Church. And by doing so (in my opinion) began the disconnect we have about the true meaning of not only Christmas - but St. Nicholas! This obviously is a VERY brief history of St. Nicholas - if you want to delve into some other stories there are some good ones at the St. Nicholas Center.
When my oldest son hit that moment when he did not believe in Santa we read Yes, "Virgina, there is a Santa Claus." I told him that Santa lived in our hearts and it is what makes us donate to those less fortunate, it is what makes parents want to see the sparkle in their children's eyes on Christmas morning. We talked about the birth of Jesus and how he lived his life helping those less fortunate (much like St. Nicholas). And I tried to instill in him a sense of giving as opposed to a sense of receiving. I will have to wait a couple of years to see how that played out - but I am hopeful.
So it amazes me that in times of economic crisis (which we have been in for a couple of years) people are still spending more than they have to celebrate the Christmas season. This is not what Christmas should be about. It should be about mending fences, spending time with family and friends. It should not be about what we can get but about what we can give .... our time, our homes, our friendship.
So this Christmas I will be preparing in my craft room and my kitchen. I will be reaching out to those that mean a lot to me. I will be teaching my children that this is a time to share with others who are not fortunate enough to have what we have. We are not wealthy (I am not even sure we are middle class anymore) but we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our back and food in our bellies - we are not rich but we are fortunate. And this is the season to share with those who are not so fortunate.
I know this blog post may sound preachy and for that I apologize - I am just disheartened and I am afraid that this generation is not learning these important life lessons. I can teach them in my home, but the stores, the televisions shows, the media seem to be forgetting these vitally important aspects of the holiday season.
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 

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