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Gift-giving has gotten out of handPosted Wednesday, December 3, 2008, at 1:18 PM
Christmas is a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The gift-giving tradition started with the Gifts of the Magi -- the three kings bearing gifts who traveled from afar to give presents to Jesus.
Over the centuries, I think the tradition got out-of-hand. Today people think Christmas just isn't Christmas without a big pile of presents under the tree. We've been urged on to buy more and more by the constant stream of advertising by retailers -- to me it all seems a bit disrespectful of a Christian holy day. Even people who are not Christians, or who don't do anything special to mark any of the other Christian holidays, celebrate Christmas and give gifts, gifts, and more gifts.
Christmas is the best season of the year for people and companies who sell things. It's not the best season for people who are barely getting by. I see so many people who are terribly stressed during the Christmas season -- do they have enough gifts, did they leave anybody out, is the gift the right gift, did they spend enough money, or did they spend too much? Some enjoy every minute of it -- for others it's a month-long reminder that they don't have the means to give the beautiful gifts that they would like to give.
I wish I could change some of these Christian traditions so that nobody would feel inadequate because they are not well-heeled during what should be a time when everyone feels a bit of peace and good will. I doubt if there's any way to stop the excessive gift-giving but I've got an idea about how to make it a little less expensive.
There's a holiday in January that we don't pay much attention to. It comes at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas -- starting on Christmas Day, the Twelve Days actually don't come before Christmas, they follow Christmas. The holiday is called Epiphany and it falls on Jan. 6. It's a feast day that means different things to Christians depending on what part of the world they live in. For some, the feast celebrates the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan River. For others, the feast celebrates the coming of the Magi. Jan. 6 falls 12 days after Christmas -- the day the Magi showed up at the manger with the presents.
My idea is to quietly make Jan. 6 into a bigger family holiday. It seems appropriate since it's the day the actual presents were delivered long ago. We could go to a candlelight Christmas Eve service and on Christmas Day remember why the holiday is a holiday. I could then hit the after-Christmas sales and buy a really expensive (artificial) tree with all the trimmings for a small fraction of what it would cost in December. And I could buy lots of stuff for next-to-nothing after retailers mark everything down several times. Then I'd start a new tradition and invite family and friends in for an Epiphany feast with gifts -- lots of gifts, and I wouldn't be broke or in debt.
Well, it's just my own little idea of how to cope with Christmas. Don't tell the retailers.
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