Why does Christmas involve so much stuff? I suppose where you are in life, especially regarding whether you have younger children or not, or grandchildren, presses this question more or less into your psyche at this time of year. But why does Christmas have so much stuff?
One could go on an endless rant, site endless studies, give endless statistics about the amount of stuff at Christmas time. I just wanted to briefly share thought provoking comments I came across the other week in thinking about this question.
I find great resonance with the thoughts of this writer, who says:
“The question for me is: how do we confront the dichotomy between the true meaning of Christmas and our learned behavioural norms? I know my two young children have enough – more than enough – of everything. Even they think they have enough. However, ingrained in my psyche is that Christmas morning should herald a lounge bursting with gifts and stockings that take the whole morning to open. If the most sustainable choice is a gift not manufactured, not transported, not purchased, not wrapped, not opened, not sent to landfill, or discarded in some toy box, why do I seek to find ways to fill up my children’s Christmas lists?”
This writer mainly has issues of environmental sustainability in mind. I share these concerns, to a large degree, but I also struggle over questions of materialism, greed, entitlement, the deadening effect material plenty can have on the soul, and the good old fashion desire to just have less junk in the house to have to deal with.
I wonder just what it is that makes it so hard to change. There are so many desirable reasons to be less involved in “stuff” around Christmas time, and most people could cite a good many of the reasons, but the stuff train keeps on rolling. Why do we often feel powerless to do anything but pass on to our children/grand-children the same as we received, even when we are uncomfortable with it and see problems in our own ways of living?
Maybe the difficulty is that stuff is so ingrained as part of life that it blinds us to its idolatrous influence in our lives. Maybe.
Consider today Jesus’ words of caution to two brothers arguing with each other about their inheritance:
Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12.15 ESV)
I doubt I’ll ever have an answer to these questions that feels right. But I’m dedicated to trying to chip away bit by bit at the materialist/consumist streak which runs through my heart. Indeed, if we ever get to a point where our hearts are comfortable with what is one of our culture’s greatest and most obvious sins, then we have lost a key part of the faithful life and prophetic voice we should have as God’s people living in light of KOG values.