Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I came home last week and noticed that my mom was wearing a bright red and green button on her coat. It said, “I celebrate Christmas” and she said that the pastor of our Church told everyone to wear them. The idea is, I assume, that when you’re shopping and in public, everyone can say “Merry Christmas” without offending you.

Well, as the saying goes, this is worthy of a conversation.

I am sure that this was suggested out of the best intentions. We want the world to recognize that Christmas is not just another holiday, a nice time to exchange gifts and eat sweets. It actually means something. Or in Bart Simpson speak, “Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.”

The other day someone was saying “I feel like everyone gets caught up in gifts and forgets the real meaning.” That statement no longer makes any sense to me somehow. Not only because it’s so obvious—yes, there are some people who don’t get it—but people say this ALL THE TIME and the statement itself seems to have lost its own meaning. It’s also because you can’t totally separate the Meaning and the actions that have developed around it. It’s not like “Jesus Christ was born and then these commercial materialists got a hold of it and it’s not at all connected anymore”. I’m not saying that people aren’t manipulated by advertising and other things into buying stupid gifts for no reason other than a sense of obligation, or that it isn’t used as an opportunity for that. I hate shopping with a passion. BUT as the HF reminds us, we give gifts to remind us of the greatest Gift of all; God who gave His only Son.

Professor Griegel from the JPI in Rome gave us a master class last year in which he highlighted the fact that if the person is not present in the gift, it is a lie. He put it this way—“Boy gives girl a flower. If boy is not in flower, then flower is a lie, a manipulation.” He meant that our gifts have to reflect that we are giving ourselves to the other person. If they are not reflections of that then they are not true. You know how you feel weird giving a gift to someone you hardly know? You do not know how to share yourself with them.

One of the best gifts Sr. Sea ever gave, she says, is the promise to write to her sister once a month. I think I will start that at home with my dad this year. I think that he would really love that, and he does not need or want anything else, really. Except a piano book! I keep telling my mom that I'd love a recipe book of her recipes, or a book of stories from growing up, but she does not get it. And that would take a lot more time as well.

How did I get from the button to there? Oh well.

Obviously, I celebrate Christmas. I believe that Truth Himself was born of a woman; that the idea of an immovable, untouchable and unchangeable God was cast aside for a living reality, a God who is Love, who takes flesh and walks among us.

Now, if someone would just put all that on a shirt, maybe I’d think about it. But “I celebrate Christmas”? “Good for you” is the response I imagine from anyone who does not. It’s not really challenging. It doesn’t call you further. It’s not really much of anything, actually, and to me it seems to belittle the greatness of it.

I’d rather wear a button that says “God loves you.”


dawn said...

On a semi-related note but not really, I was completely dumbfounded the other day when my brother, in all seriousness said, "I had such a hard time shopping the other day. I mean, what do you get the cat who has everything?" referring to his very spoiled cat. Now it may seem superficial but this struck my heart deeply with all the implications that this held. Cat? What about the people who have nothing and are struggling to provide their children food? I recognize your gesture towards your cat, but really. Anyway, I'm sure all the JPII'ers would have a much more articulated explanation for what I am trying to share. And don't get me wrong, I love animals, but I was just...dumb founded.

Carla said...

YES! :) Thanks for reminding me about Professor G's lecture and the boy with the flower. Picturing him saying that makes me smile, and on top of that helps me explain why even though materialism isn't good, we are physical/material, and need gifts in this form to remind us of God's gift to us... Eucharist, anyone?

Kaitrin said...

earthie pie,
this is an awesome one.
thank you!