By Nathan Barton
I just got a Hardware Store ad – as we race through the “holiday shopping season” once again in the Fifty States. Prominently featured in their “Light Up The Season” flyer is a giant (12 feet tall!) inflatable Santa, sure to show how sophisticated your tastes are as you celebrate the holidays. For just $59.95 plus tax.
No this is not a diatribe against commercialization of Christmas. Nor an attack on those who think there is no Christmas – just “holidays.” (In fact, the word Christmas appears several times in the Hardware Store ad.) Rather, it is a look, as I title this commentary, at our priorities.
One of the very few justifications (from a religious or even godly point of view, especially) for celebrating Christmas – at least as a secular holiday and not a religious one – is that it is a season of good will, of giving of gifts, of showing more concern than usual for the poor, for families, and for peace on earth.
(Of course, that is also a good argument against the celebration. Are we not to be loving, seek peace, care for the poor, have good will towards others, and pay attention to our families ALL YEAR, and not just for a few weeks in December?)
So I ask if we should not examine our priorities? 60+ dollars is enough, even today, to buy the ingredients of a nice Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for a family of four. Or allow a couple to go out to a nice family restaurant for that holiday dinner. There are any number of gifts that can purchased for such a “paltry” sum (which isn’t so paltry for too many right here in the Fifty States even today).
Fun as it is, and as much as many who love big, fancy outdoor Christmas decorations, what is the priority? Regardless of the thrill we might have with a lighted, pneumatic TWELVE-FOOT Santa in our front yard or on the roof of our house, is there not at least a twinge of pleasure at helping someone, of giving someone something that they need? And not because they NEED it, as much as because we need to give and not just take.
And if you don’t know personally someone who could really use that money or the gifts that money could buy, there are many places and organizations that will be glad for a check or a donation by credit-card or Paypal or Bitcoin that will help some child, or some family still trying to recover from a hurricane or a wildfire or a murdered family member. Or even someone in your hometown going through a rough period.
No, you aren’t required to do that, and you aren’t prohibited from buying that $60+ Santa (or the $700 Christmas tree, or another $100 of Christmas lights). You have the liberty to spend that money (whatever the government leaves you after stealing so much) any way you wish. Whether it was earned by your own work, a return on your investment in something, or given to you by your family (perhaps as an inheritance). It’s yours. Enjoy doing something with it.
But think about the priorities you personally have. And remember that there are a lot of ways to enjoy money and the things it brings. (And keep in mind, we rightly condemn government for stealing money to “care” for the poor, the needy. Yet we all too often are prone to say that since government is doing this, we have no role to play – “I already gave on the tax form.” Lots of enjoyment there!)
Thanksgiving and Christmas, and even New Year’s, are a time for family and friends and giving and giving thanks to God (and each other) for what we have been blessed with. No matter how bad things are here in the Fifty States, in the “developed world,” and even in the “undeveloped world,” compared to a century ago, we are indeed blessed.
Mama’s Note: All charity organizations are not equal, of course. There are a number of established information sources, such as “Charity Watch” that rate the various charities for effectiveness and warns of frauds.
Your own town probably has a good number of dedicated people who work to serve the homeless, the elderly, and others in need all year long. As Nathan says, finding one or more of them to assist is probably the best for the most part. The local efforts are usually the most effective, with little “overhead” to eat up your donations, and they help your own neighbors.
Yes indeed, each individual and family is free to do what they want with their own money, time and efforts, but I hope you will give some serious thought to the destruction caused by going into (or further into) debt for Christmas or any other “holiday.” Each dollar of debt is one stolen from your OWN family, your children and your future. That so many people indulge in this destruction is one of the real tragedies of modern American life, not just the holidays.