The Christmas shopping season officially arrived with the removal of Halloween merchandise from the store shelves. There was a Christmas vacation meeting at work this week, and emotions were high as staff members competed with each other for time off during Christmas week. Emails have been circulating with potential dates for Christmas parties, potlucks and gift and cookie exchanges. I work in three different therapy programs, and each one wants its own party and gift exchange. Holiday stress is already on an upward curve, as is the potential for over spending and over scheduling.
Stores shelves are filling with over priced and over packaged Christmas “necessities”, many of them gaudy, cheap and imported from sweatshops in poor countries. The most-wanted toy lists were published today, and the headline reads “high tech toys for tots dominate the holiday season.” Buying for older children and adults may mean purchasing even higher tech, more expensive toys.
I think most people want a meaningful Christmas, but the commercialism of the season is so pervasive that it sucks us into a giant vacuum of meaninglessness. Christmas virtues, including faith, love, joy, peace, simplicity, and thankfulness end up being elusive as they are not found on store shelves.
I often feel weighed down with the sheer quantity of things I own and resent the time it takes to look after them. My husband and I went to a local nursing home a while ago to visit an elderly man from our church. Afterwards, we commented on the minimal number of personal items this man could fit in the small room he shared with another resident. His home had been filled with beautiful things that he could no longer have with him.
I have told my family that I do not want any gifts purchased for me this year. I would prefer to have a donation sent to help people who are truly needy whether they are in my community or somewhere else in the world. I have been looking up some worthwhile charities and have come up with this list for starters. If anyone has other suggestions, please let me know.
Mennonite Central Committee
Canadian Pediatric Society (See this post on Borneo Breezes to see the kind of work supported by the foundation)
Doctors without Borders
Take a look at the Canadian Book of Charities for a list of other ideas
I will do some Christmas baking, put up some meaningful decorations, do some volunteering, and look forward to visiting family and friends. But I am going to resist the pressures and obligations that compel us to overdo the entire season.