Very, very many years ago I gave up the secular holiday called
“Christmas.” I do not like its cloying sentimentality. I abhor the enforced gaiety of the season. What is this mania that seems to grip the
dominant culture of the U.S., as if we’re all supposed to be joyous and
carefree, evidenced by massive expenditures during the consumer orgy that
reigns from “Black Friday” through Christmas?
I am not joyous when I consider my personal status,
including the economic fact that I haven’t had a significant salary increase in
over a decade. I’m not joyous when I
learn that the homeless population in our small town is growing
dramatically. I’m not joyous when our
state legislature ignores the cries of the poor and hungry and sick, while they
suck at the teat of Rex Sinquefield.
I’m not carefree when I watch what’s happening in the world
around me. The re-emerging racism in our
country, often directed toward President Obama, and the systemic racism
manifest in the death of Michael Brown and the aftermath in Ferguson. The Ebola crisis that continues to grip
countries including Sierra Leone, where many of my fellow parishioners still
have family and friends. The seemingly
insoluble problems in the Middle East. The miserable chasm between rich and
poor in the U.S., where “the American dream” now rings like a hollow joke.
I can’t begin to count the number of people who, in the past
two days, have asked, “How was your Christmas?” The question comes from co–workers
who don’t really know me, waitresses, and shopkeepers. Do they really want an answer? I doubt it.
It’s like the co–workers whom I pass in the hall who, as they pass me,
ask, “How ya doing?” Do they want a real
answer? No, they do not. If they did, they would pause and meet my eye
as they ask the question.
What do they mean when they ask “How was your Christmas?” I have no idea. I had a rich and blessed Advent. I was blessed to serve as crucifer at my
parish’s midnight mass. I was grateful
that a couple of women in our parish decided to make Christmas dinner for all
who wanted to come. It was a blessing to
share a Christmas Day meal with so many people whom I enjoy and treasure.
I had a blessed Advent, while most of the populace was on a spending
spree. I spent Christmas Eve and
Christmas Day with the church family I treasure. That made it a “good Christmas” to me. That’s
more than I could have hoped for.
As for the economic American “Christmas.” No, thank you.
Labels: Christmas Advent