The emotions surrounding Christmas, personally, have always brought forth feelings of angst. The pressure and conflict is often dreadful.
The holidays, for as long as I can remember, have always felt like a pressure cooker of expectations. At any time things could go awry, as they usually did, and Christmas would be ruined once again.
I don’t know about you, but my most sane memories of Christmas took place in the absence of my family members growing up. The expectations and years of unresolved resentment that were left unacknowledged year after year steadily built on-top of each other. I could rarely get a sense for what this holiday season, that was supposedly based in love, was all about. The only thing that was made of the utmost importance was the materialistic smash and grab of it all.
This time of year, for many of you, has a strong spiritual significance. It is the holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Growing up Catholic, I too was told that this was the most important holiday and time of year. Little explanation was ever provided, except that “Jesus is your lord and saviour”, and that was that. You may also be of a varied faith, and for you this time of year means staff parties and limited parking at the mall.
My life has unfolded so vastly since those early years in catechism, and my spiritual perspective has grown immensely. Today, Christmas is something I could really do without.
This is by no means a slap in the face to Christians out there, because I too was raised in the word and still follow the teachings of Jesus. I just don’t recall reading anywhere in the bible the importance of consumerism. Or, like many people do, get into debt from buying gifts they can’t afford for people they barely know. Not to mention that these gifts are also usually purchased from a motive of fear of judgment, rather than love. I don’t know about you guys, but I have yet to uncover the gift of love in a wrapped up box with a bow.
If we are to strip away all the bullshit that surrounds Christmas, and truly place our focus on what the day should still represent, irrespecutful of whether or not Jesus was even born on that specific day, the gifts around the tree would be replaced with devoted presence, appreciation, and deep freeing connection with one another. Unfortunately, in 2018, December 25th now represents a day filled with huge expectation and tension.
I too have to stop myself from being pulled into the vortex of marketing and uplifting jingles while perusing mall. I also find myself being subtly pressured to spend outlandish amounts of time and thought prior to buying that ‘perfect’ present. The precious gifts that most people lose interest in over the course of the following few weeks. This serious problem most battle with, consciously or not, that society validates as a norm.
Say for instance, if I was needing to purchase a gift for my nephew, and wanted to show him how much I care about him, the most stimulating and memorable gift I could present to him would be of me allocating more time to be with him, doing adventures and activities that he loves. Do you think for a second that what that child needs is another expensive toy or screen to distract himself with? I don’t really want him to view me as the uncle that gives him the most expensive and best gifts, but rather, I want him to think that I am a safe and trusted confidant he can turn to whenever. He will feel and know that at his core, because over the years I have been there to guide and support him as life leans more and more on him.
Motives can easily be masqueraded during Christmas hype. We don’t sit and acknowledge how powerful marketing really is, and how far we have been sucked into their financial traps. It really is a gut-check kind of reframe when we think about what is truly influencing our habits.
Are my motives pure? Will this gift make this person feel deeply loved? Or, is it that I just want to ignite a fleeting moment of excitement as they unwrap my gifts? It is also me who seeks validation from there reaction too? The gifts I buy are really all about me appearing highly likeable. I buy things so that others will be impressed by my ‘greatness’, and not what the focal point should be, which is of spreading love.
This is just another way my starving ego satisfies it appetite for attention and praise, and I sit here and call it the best time of the year. But, for who? Them, or me?