As we begin the period of Advent I am again confronted by the commercialisation of the Christmas Celebration in the Western world. The gluttony and waste that we engage in should embarrass us all. Sadly, this situation has arisen in part out of the misunderstanding and misdirection of the goodwill and generosity of Christian people.
In past decades generosity at Christmas had real meaning even in our culture where life was certainly not as easy as it is now. Well meaning Christians acted to show God’s love to family members and friends by the giving of gifts and preparation of special dinners. Even the presence of St Nicholas visiting had a deeper meaning.
Over the years as our wealth grew the gifts became bigger and more extravagant, the special dinners become lusher and even excessive. What had begun with good intentions as a signs of God’s love became unintentional misconstrued as obligation and canny marketers took advantage of the Christmas binge.
The story of how we came to celebrate so lavishly is one of those stark reminders how even when we seek to do the ‘right’ thing it can end up so wrong.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar called the Advent Conspiracy. It was a timely reminder of what Christmas is really about and encouraged me to think again and whom I will offer my generosity to this year – family & friends who have all they need and more, or those in the world who are in dire need of the basic necessities for life?