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Posted by on Dec 23, 2013 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 3 comments

Every Day is Christmas Morning

 

christmas-present

You know what I want for Christmas?

Nothing.

That’s right.  Absolutely nothing at all.

Please.  I beg of you.  I don’t want anyone going out and buying me a gift.

“What!  Is this a protest against Christmas,” you ask?

No.  I’m not Grinch.  I’m not Scrooge.

In fact, I’m extraordinarily fortunate, which is what I am.  Lucky beyond the stars.  And if you’re reading this, odds are you’re lucky, too.  Whatever the barometer is for quality of life, we are both incredibly fortunate to be within the top five percent of all the people who have ever lived on this earth.  Maybe higher.  Perhaps even in the top one percent.  Even the poorest people living in Western countries probably rank in the top ten percent of all humanity that’s existed.

Think about it.  Every day we wake up is Christmas morning.  We’re blessed to live in a society where life expectancy stands at an all-time high.  Modern science has cured diseases that used to kill millions.  We now have more comforts than any people who have ever lived — whether it’s heat and air conditioning, or simply driving an automobile.  We enjoy a reasonable degree of personal freedom, although the fight to protect these rights must continue.  We eat the best variety of foods any society has ever produced.  We have more entertainment options at our fingertips than any civilization in history.  We are the most traveled, best educated, most spoiled group of people in all of eternity.  Whatever the measurement is, each one of us has been blessed way beyond what we deserve, especially compared to others in the world who struggle each and every day, or our own ancestors who were lucky to live to the age of 30.

So, why then would I need any more stuff?  Isn’t coveting the possessions of our neighbors a sin?  What kind of sick society spends an entire month out of every year obsessing over what to purchase for others who are also lucky enough to be in the “one-percent club?”  It’s like we’re all members of King Louis XV and Marie Antoinette’s royal court partying on humanity’s extended timeline.  The bar of Christmas giving and receiving has become a Lexus commercial.

It’s not just a charade.  It’s shameful.  And the spectacle is contrary to the spirit of what this holiday is supposed to represent.

If you’re starting to get fed up with the circus — and I suspect there are many who have — that means you’ve reached an important crossroads.  Ask yourself — do you plan on going along with the game every year forward?  Or, might the time be to consider other options?  Might there be a better way to celebrate the Christmas holiday?

Here’s what I’m proposing.

Starting next year, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving, let’s ignore Black Friday.  Boycott the elephant rush.  Quit running a track meet you can’t possibly win designed by corporations and banks to make you dash out and spend money you probably don’t have.  Quit it.  Stop asking “how high” when the slick advertisements tell you to “jump.”  Because fact is, you’re probably jumping off a cliff.  It’s a needless step in the wrong direction.

Consider the following questions:  What did you receive last year for Christmas?  Go ahead, take your time.  Do you remember?  What about the year before?  And the year before that?  My guess is — most of us don’t remember most of the things we gave away, nor the things we received.  Most of the presents we unwrapped with such anticipation are now tucked in drawers somewhere, or stuffed inside closets.  In a few years, those items will be sold off at a garage sale.  So, what was the whole point?

Instead, take a vow to really make a difference, even if it’s a small difference in the life of someone — perhaps even someone you don’t know.  Make a concerted effort to give something to someone out there who needs help.  Anyone.  Just do it.

Need is all around us.  Everywhere.  All you have to do is look.  The human need for assistance is way beyond our capacity to absorb it.  Every city, and even small towns, have countless people needing help.  Children who could use that gift you don’t need, which sparks a rare smile.  A family with a parent who’s currently unemployed, unable to buy a nice holiday dinner.  An elderly man or woman who is lonely and trapped inside a nursing home, with no visitors during the holiday.  A widow living alone.  Hundreds of millions of people overseas, unlucky to have been born on the wrong side of borders, who have never heard of Christmas.  People who are starving, or living in terror.  Desperate animals living out on the street in the cold, digging through garbage cans hoping to find their next meal.

Let’s do something for them.  One of them.  Two of them.  Ten of them.  Whatever.  Just do it.

This would be an embrace of Christmas.  A reaffirmation of Christmas.  A small personal initiative to remind ourselves what Christmas should actually mean.  Whether or not you believe in a Christian god is irrelevant.  The spirit of giving goes for believers and non-believers, alike.

No, we can’t cure the sick.  Or, erase pain and suffering.  Or, get everyone a decent job who needs one.  Or, stop wars.  We can’t do any of these things.  But we can do something.  And, I’m willing to bet you might get all tingly inside, and ultimately come to experience that same joy.  So instead of fighting for parking spots at giant malls, maxing out credit cards, and buying ourselves all kinds of fancy consumer items that most of us don’t need, let’s try something else.  Let’s go for a different approach.

Starting right now.  And if it’s too late because your shopping this year is already done, then start the new way of celebrating next year.

On December 26th, you’ll be shocked at how nothing might be the best gift you’ve ever received.

Indeed, for most of us — every day is Christmas morning.

 

Note:  Marieta started this about six years ago.  She came up with the idea of spending Christmas Eve giving things away.  So, I went along.  It all started with her seeing a post by someone on Craig’s List — a poor family in North Las Vegas asking for a Christmas turkey.  We had an extra turkey in our freezer, so we drove it over to them on Christmas Eve.  It wasn’t a big deal, not even a sacrifice.  But seeing joy (real joy) on the faces of others, rather than trying to satisfy our own cravings was a real blessing.  Especially those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy a happy Christmas.  Make a difference.

 

3 Comments

  1. Nolan, thanks for posting this. Hopefully, it will inspire others. As usual, I have very strong opinions and a lot to say on this. You and I need to talk again soon in real life.

  2. I could not agree more. I am blessed every day. And I really don’t want more stuff. I’m trying to simplify my life and surroundings! Never thought about looking for someone in need on Craig’s list. Thanks for the idea. Have a safe and beautiful Christmas. One other thing….I always knew Marieta was a beautiful person. Give her our love.

  3. Nice post. Suggest a contribution to a food bank or a homeless shelter or volunteer at one on Christmas day. It helps others and brightens one spirit.

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