True, the older I get, the harder it is for me to relish the holidays. Call me an old Scrooge, a pessimist, or just a loopy geezer. I may certainly fit the chosen category. That I do not deny. When did I change from holiday reveler to party-pooper? I honestly don't know, but these days I often associate more pain than joy with Christmas. Of course, this makes me feel guilty but numbness often creeps into hallowed places. This year, I am searching for some reasons behind my apparent negative behavior.
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and moral teachings that contain the central tenets of Christian discipleship. According to Matthew, Chapters 5-7, Jesus of Nazareth gave this sermon (estimated around A.D. 30) on a mountainside to his disciples and to a large, interested crowd. Augustine later said it was "a perfect standard of the Christian life" and John Donne stated that all one's sermon find their origins in this section of Scripture.
To no one's surprise, the Christmas Scripture is most often the wonderful story of the Immaculate Conception, the subsequent travels faced by Joseph and Mary, and the celebrated birth of the Christ child. (Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20) However, the Christmas season has increasing become a reverberating appeal of "I want. I want. I want..."
At Christmas, parents and friends often get tangled in the web of trying to grant every material wish of loved ones. The reality is that such behavior creates unrealistic, even detrimental expectations in both the gift giver and the gift receiver. Christmas then transforms into the monstrous holiday peopled solely by flashy advertisers, profit-minded retailers, and ravenous consumers. Beginning with the frantic frenzy of Black Friday and continuing through the sea of returns of the post-season, the holiday normally mutates into a rude, loud, and greedy behemoth.
Of course, all consumers know the value of setting limits, emphasizing giving over receiving, avoiding the acquisition of misinformed purchases, and showing appreciation for thoughtful consideration. With good intentions, no one during Christmas claims to march to the ring of the cash registers and to pour out money for status symbols and frivolities.
But, with heads spinning and eyes transfixed on dwindling December supplies, shoppers reach further and further into their modest and meager savings. After all, it's "the season to be jolly." And people find "the spirit of the season" in the latest Barbie Doll or brand new Lexus. Enter the "must have" gift and the item people "cannot live without." Unfortunately, along with these purchases come overextended credit cards and unpaid loans.
19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (greed, avarice, and unjust worldly gain in Biblical literature -- personified as a false god).