Day #6 – Christmas Greed – More! More! More!
I see Christmas as one of the greediest times of the year. It doesn’t matter if it is the presents or food or volunteering/donating it is all based out of greed. The don’t do or give for the act of service but instead to see what recognition they can get out of it. They want people to say ‘You are so generous.’ but really they should do it or give it without the expectation of recognition.
The easiest place to see greed is in the giving of presents. Gone are the days of the small but thoughtful gifts for people. Today it is about the more the merrier and bigger is always better. In my mind, I can see the scene in ‘Harry Potter’ where Dudley is angry because he doesn’t have more presents than last year. Yes, I know it was his birthday, but the idea is the same. We are the ones who condition our kids to what to expect out of Christmas.
Growing up I was lucky to get any more than 2 or 3 presents and they would be hand-me-downs or a small cheap craft. I would go to school the next day and the kids would talk about everything that they got for Christmas and I would be jealous. I thought to myself that when I grew up I would give my kids everything they wanted for Christmas. I was young and didn’t understand the complexity of gift giving. For me it was all about the amount and type of gifts, not what they meant. Now having my own kids, I definitely do things differently than my parents, but I am no where near giving my kids everything. I use it as a time to show them how much I love, value, and am proud of them. My wife and I try to make fewer but thoughtful gifts. Is it things they want, sure, but there is a lot we don’t give them that they do want. It gives them something they can work for on their own. However, as my kids go to school and hear what their friends got then I get to hear about it. I just remind them that I am not their friends parent and there are a lot of other people who don’t get anything.
This one may seem a little odd but if you think about the whole holiday season there is a hoard of food that is consumed. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years there is so many opportunities to eat. These opportunities provide some families the chance to over indulge. They have a huge Thanksgiving feasts and then the holiday cooking begins. The cookies and candy, the pies and fruit cakes and the turkey’s and hams. I sometimes wonder when all this food became part of the holidays. I understand the reason for Thanksgiving in honoring our past but what about the others. I don’t think that there is any doubt this plays into the fact that January is the month when most people acquire gym memberships. Most people also stop using it by March, but they have probably got their eating under control by then. I know around where I live there are huge elaborate spreads of food where the hosts want to have everyone they know over to share this elaborate display of food. Is this to celebrate with close friends or is it a chance to show everything they have and can provide? I don’t know and really I don’t care a whole lot but my guess, being the scrooge that I am, is that they do it to show their wealth and generosity. For us we have our own dinners. We plan, not only what we are eating for each holiday, but what we are going to do with all the leftovers. We plan this to make sure we don’t waste much food. Do we invite people over? Only if we find out someone does not have anywhere else to go. One of our friends comes over a lot but it is because her husband works on the Holidays and all her kids do not like all the normal holiday foods. So she makes food for her family and then they all come over. Her kids come and play and she gets to eat a more traditional holiday dinner. I just cannot understand the pomp and circumstance that is included with others holiday meals. It is just food and if you are lucky good company.
Another holiday “tradition” that makes me cringe is all the shallow donating of food, money, items, and time. People seem to use it as an opportunity to make up for the rest of the exuberance they have over the rest of the holidays. Now I am grateful that people do all those things, but it seems like some people use it as a status symbol. They feed off what their friends think of them being an “angel”. They put on their Facebook page how they helped serve food for the homeless or how they handed out food at the local food pantry. For me, I would think more of a person who did these things without ever mentioning it, without looking for the recognition. If they are doing it for the right reasons then the act itself should be reward enough. They should not need the comments on how generous or how they are such a good person. If there are such things as angels then I am sure they don’t flaunt themselves. At least last time I looked, they did not change their Facebook status to making a miracle at the corner of 3rd and Elm. Angels would go about their work with as little of notice as possible. If you are one of those people who helps and donates but never says a word, then you are one person who is doing it for all the right reasons.
We need to veto the gluttony of the holiday season. As a wise person once said, “You can over indulge in anything, even lettuce or service. The key is to take/do things in moderation and take/do them with humility.”.