Friday, December 23, 2011

iBle - the new Bible

This is almost too realistic to be funny. OK, it's still funny, but it's especially appropriate during the Christmas season.

Obviously, when it comes to Christmas, I probably disagree with devout Christians about most things. But we still might agree on the idea that Christmas has become too commercial. However we might disagree about the "reason for the season," we probably agree that it's not to "shop until you drop."

But there's a reason why Christmas - and other holidays, too, to a lesser extent - has become more and more a shopping extravaganza. Businesses make a profit from that, so they have a real incentive to push it.

Stores start advertising even before Halloween sometimes, and many companies make their entire profit the last couple months of the year. Media companies push Christmas, because they make money on advertising. The media would no more question commercializing Christmas than they'd admit that it doesn't really matter who wins a sports match - and for the same reason.

The idea behind gift-giving is fine, no doubt, but we are constantly encouraged that way only because people make money from it. It's funny, but there's a very selfish reason behind this push to be generous. And we're gullible enough that people often go into debt to finance Christmas in the manner to which the media have convinced them is appropriate.

My parents used to tell me that, when they were children, they typically received one toy at Christmas. Mom said she received a doll one Christmas,... and the doll clothes the next Christmas.

When we were kids, we had lots of gifts under the tree, but that paled next to the mountain of gifts my nephew and nieces received in later years. Partly, that was a matter of increased family wealth, of course. But a lot of it was different expectations of Christmas, too, I suspect.

It's not just gifts, since we're constantly urged to spend money on decorations and everything else, too. And it's not just Christmas, since we are increasingly bombarded at nearly every holiday to spend more money. Well, as I say, it's a conspiracy - or maybe just a synergy - between the media and other corporations. Everyone wants a cut of the pie, and it's to everyone's benefit that the pie be as large as possible.

I suspect that even non-profit groups benefit. When there's lots of money flying around, it's easier for pretty much anyone to snag some of it. We tend to be more generous at Christmas, at least in part because we're already spending a lot of money on other things.

But does this benefit you and your family? It certainly doesn't if you go into debt. It certainly doesn't if this leaves you short of money to save for your retirement - or for your children's education. Whatever the real "meaning of Christmas," is it all about money? Not for me.

My Christmases have gotten so much better since I stopped exchanging gifts. Oh, I'd still give gifts if there were young children in the family, of course. And for older children, I send money. Even for adults, I might give a token gift of candy or flowers. I'm not a fanatic about this.

But there used to be a lot of stress at Christmastime. I'd spend weeks worrying about what gifts to buy, struggling to get just the right thing for everyone. Then, at Christmas, at least half the time my gifts would clearly fall flat - and I'd be given things I didn't really want, myself.

Eventually, I realized that we were giving each other items that we simply didn't want badly enough to buy for ourselves - just because that's what we'd been led to believe was the right thing to do at Christmas.

And I don't like to shop. Some people do. Some people apparently love to shop. But not me. For me, it was an unwelcome chore, and a stressful one. You can't imagine how much nicer my Christmases are these days!

I love Christmas. I don't necessarily love everything about it, but it's always been one of my favorite holidays. But I've never liked being manipulated by other people for their own advantage, and that's what seemed to be happening at Christmas. There was a reason why Christmas was becoming too commercial.

Well, I'm not a parent, either, and Christmas is all about children. So maybe that has something to do with it. At any rate, you can celebrate Christmas any way you want. I have no desire to dictate to anyone else, none at all. But this works for me.


Kim McCann said...

Hey, WCG. I'm back, but not commenting on "Brother Sam". :o) I just want to say how much I'm enjoying reading your postings and views. As you say, I may not agree with everything you do (ok.... I'll say I don't, but isn't that the truth with everyone?), but I very much respect the respect you show to others who don't have the same view as you on things.

As far as your view on most of Christmas, I'd say I see it as you do. Where I differ from you, is that I do believe in a God or higher power or what ever name you'd label "him". I don't know how to label myself, if I had to. Am I Christian? I don't go to church. Although, I see nothing wrong with going to church, as long as you're going for the right reason. And not to crap all over every and any one else the rest of the week and tell yourself it's ok because you went to church on Sunday. Basically, I feel that what really truly matters is the Golden Rule........ Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Be a good person. For myself, I feel that there are too many things that have happened in my life for it to be just "coincidences". I also don't feel that science has everything figured out as facts. A lot of science is theory (although that was never my #1 subject, either). Organized religion.......... my opinion is that a lot of times it IS a joke, or mockery. I've known people who've been raised in fairly strict Catholic households and it WAS almost abusive. The fire and brimstone religion..... ummm...... I'd have the same opinion (which probably isn't totally accurate, as I've never actually gone to one of those churches). I guess I consider myself spiritual. I pray. I feel that most of the time my prayers are answered. Always? No. But there's that freedom of choice I was talking about and we all have that. We make our own mistakes and karma, I believe, for the most part. Sometimes, though, I believe things happen that we just don't understand now, but we will one day.

I do believe the saying "Jesus is the Reason", re: Christmas. If you (or anyone else) doesn't, I am not one to attempt to drill my views into your head.

How you described Christmas as stressful..... yes, sir, I most definately agree with you on that! You're right...... the commercialism really kind of makes me ill. How many people, other than kids, aren't stressed out at Christmas time? As you get older, the list of people who you're pretty much obligated to buy for gets longer. I mean.... how would it look if you don't get a new member of the family Christmas gifts, right? All of the money (which is usually tight, anyways, with most people) and the time to do all of the shopping (which I personally hate, too!), wrapping, the time to try to figure out what to get for all of the people on your list, mailing it out (if you need to do that). Then, what about all of the time most people spend decorating their homes, writing out Christmas cards and ..... maybe, baking cookies (I'm sure some still do that!). Where is the joy, after the stress? And isn't that what Christmas is supposed to be? Joyful? Whether you are celebrating Christ or celebrating the holiday with your family...... the commercialism does it's best to take any joy out of the season.

I love Christmas lights, Christmas music and being with those I love at Christmas. Although, why wouldn't I love giving someone a gift.... who I didn't know WHAT to buy for them....... and having them make a smart-ass comment/insult about it? Oh joy, joy.

As kids, the day after Christmas is usually kind of a let-down. As adults, it's...... THANK GOD, it over! Sorry. :o)

WCG said...

Welcome back, Kim. :)

Yes, we do agree about some things, including the Golden Rule. We disagree about others, which makes us no different than any other two people (as you indicate).

I do try to respect people, though I don't necessarily respect their beliefs. I have strong opinions about many things, I think I have good reasons for those opinions, and I'm never shy at expressing them. Of course, I'm aware that I could be wrong.

Normally, I say what I mean. But that bluntness can sound overly critical on the internet. It's very different from being face to face with a person. I have to keep reminding myself of that - not always very successfully, I'm afraid.

At any rate, agree or disagree, you're always welcome to comment here. I don't have to agree with people to enjoy their conversation. Sometimes, I even enjoy a good debate. :)

m1nks said...

God (who doesn't verifyably exist) where do you get these? They are great!

Re the Christmas message, I'm fortunate in that Christmas to me is about as stressful as a weekly food shop. For starters I'm on the other side of the world from my family so that cuts down the gift buying hassle right there and even if I was back in NZ our whole (extended) family has long since moved to the single gift, price cap (moderately high as you are only buying one gift) secret santa name out of a hat. So Christmas to me is about eating horrendous amounts of food, drinking more champagne than is good for me, spending time with family and friends and then sprawling on the coach eyeing my distended stomach with mild dismay.

Ah, good times :-)