Material Christmas

Once one is past the age of expecting magic to happen around the holidays, the Christmas season becomes a blur.
Year and in year out, we decorate the tree, and put up the lights. We make lists of presents to purchase for our parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, clients, and bosses. We put on Christmas music, do the groceries for the Noche Buena, save a Christmas greeting or two that we received on our cellphone to forward to whoever remembers us on this holiday.
When the season is over, we finish the last leftovers from our Christmas feast, pack away the gifts that we have gotten, and take down the decorations that have gotten us into the mood for the festivities, ready to be taken out in the coming year when we reprise our Christmas script, with all its gaudiness and glitter and (although quite rarely) a dose of goodwill.
Christmas for many of us has become this insipid routine because we are so tied down by its material implications. “More,” instead of “merry” has become our mantra, as if more around the holidays is necessarily better. We aspire for more presents than last year, more dishes during Noche Buena, more elegant decorations, all the while forgetting that “more” may even mean more junk, more cholesterol, or more stress.
Of course, it is difficult to blame ourselves, having been taught to ask for material gifts from Santa Claus even when we were very young. Thus, this attitude is so deeply ingrained in our system that it is difficult to shake it off, even at a time when we think we know a lot better.
Still, this does not mean that this culture should persist. It does not mean that we should keep asking for “more,” when we truly only need little.
Says Ghandi, “The world is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” At a time like this, when so many are suffering right in our own nation, this admonition cannot ring any truer.
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