Amid Christmas glitz and hype, may promise of old shine anew

Didn’t we just do this? Wasn’t it only a couple months or so ago that we were going through the perennial agonizing over what to get for whom, muttering all the while about the over-commercialization of Christmas?

How the accumulated years and decades change one’s perspective. As children, Christmas was for-ev-er away, birthdays crept around ever so slowly, and time dawdled at snail’s pace until summer vacation finally arrived.

Now, whoosh, another year’s flown, and we’re again caught in the holiday swirl.

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In today’s electronic universe, the marketing of Christmas becomes ever more relentless — and ever more lengthy. Catalogs start arriving in August, Christmas displays begin appearing in stores shortly thereafter, and commercials for gifts (a twinkly Santa suggesting his and hers Mercedes. Really? Perhaps in the rarefied world of hedge fund managers and other Wall Street/banking types) clutter the TV schedule, interspersed with incessant ads for the latest incredibly expensive miracle drugs that will, in a couple years or so, be targets of yet more class action lawsuits. E-mail queues are cluttered with come-ons for Black Friday/Cyber Monday-this-that-or-the-other sales. We are told that Christmas can represent as much as half of a company’s yearly revenue, and it’s our duty to buy, buy, buy, or the economy will come crashing down. And the age-old import of the season gets buried in glitz and salesmanship.

Those of an age to remember far simpler times wax nostalgic about family expeditions into the woods to seek out the perfect Christmas tree; the struggle to find the one burned-out bulb in a string of lights that kept all the others from burning; cracking pecans, hickory nuts, and walnuts; the delicious aromas of holiday baking; the candies and fruits we saw only at Christmastime; carols and Christmas stories on the radio; the elation when school was finally dismissed and Santa’s big night neared.

One can only wonder what today’s youngsters, growing up in an electronic/cyber world, will look back on with nostalgia 20, 30, 40 Christmases hence. Hey, remember that clunky iPhone 6? That Xbox? We thought they were cutting edge! How archaic!

Five months’ bombardment of Christmas hype and “Jingle Bell Rock” gets kinda tiresome, giving rise now and then to Scrooge-y imprecations. Away! Begone!

In a world increasingly beset with man’s inhumanity, venality, indifference, and outright evil, one’s expectation of there ever being peace on Earth and goodwill to men is muchly strained.

Amid the tinsel and glitz and materiality of the season, may we remember what it is we observe, and from down through the centuries may the message and hope of that long-ago birth echo in our hearts.

To you and yours, best wishes for a wonderful Christmas!


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