Three cards we’ve received have included long (photo-copied) letters telling of the senders’ activities over the past year. I can’t help but sigh when one of these ‘Look at what we’ve done’ letters appears. Is it really anything to do with Christmas? Or is it more a (yearly) chance to brag about achievements?
The ‘news’ is nearly always about travel undertaken, travel plans, happy occurrences and great achievements of family members. Anything that is not a positive happening is made into something that has been coped with successfully. ‘Look how well we’ve done!”
A repeat offender in this annoying ‘family letter’ habit is a mother of four (grown) children. Each and every year we receive a missive about the family’s doings, but one child (a quite unlikeable grown man!) is mentioned in about 90% of the letters; his praises sung and his achievements lauded. The other three members of the family are seemingly just mentioned in passing. This has been the pattern for years – decades even! So sick of hearing about him!
Any connection with Christmas here? Nup!
Another tedious letter tells us about a couple’s house moving and the unsatisfactory workings of the new stove and the creaking new floorboards. Really? Also, a member of this family underwent minor surgery and found that ‘sipping ginger beer’ gave him more pain relief than ‘unhelpful heavy medication’ provided by the hospital. Really?
Am I interested? Nup!
From now on I will not let these letters annoy me; instead I will have a big laugh and just toss them out.
Happy Christmas everyone!
I have been wondering about so many of us complaining of all the stress of Christmas - and how it could be seen in a different way.
Could we make it a chance to remind us a little bit of the Christmas spirit: I mean the ‘thinking of others’ idea?
That’s probably not a novel approach, I know, but I’m trying to equate what is going on around me with the origin of Christmas.
Can we make thinking of others more real and even heartfelt?
Yes, I know there are many people who do think of others more than themselves, but I am also hearing lots of moans about ‘necessary’ gift buying.
Could we turn what seems to be the ‘chore’ of gift buying into a privilege - and something we really want to do?
Few people seem to be thinking of the biblical story of the first Christmas. Sure, there are token carols blasting out from the sound systems in shopping malls; carols interspersed with other ‘Christmassy’ music such as the execrable ‘Chestnuts roasting by and open fire’ (totally inappropriate in the subtropics of Australia for any season, by the way). But, right now, Christmas seems mostly all about buy, buy, buy and spend, spend, spend and Santa, Santa, Santa and what the hell will I get for….
Okay, so over time we’ve lost much of the meaning of Christmas but perhaps there is something we can do to (ever-so-slightly) alleviate this mad gift-buying botheration. Perhaps there is a way to make us stop and think more calmly about those who are near and dear to us – the very people we are buying gifts for.
The chore of thinking of and then buying a gift for someone is a deed done for someone else and (especially at this time) not for us, so let’s think of it like that. Think of each gift as A GIFT.
It is a privilege to have someone to whom you need show your love at Christmas time by giving a gift. Think of it that way. Turn bother into pleasure.
The (some time) added pain of having to find the money to replace funds in a credit card that has been maxed out by Christmas shopping could also be looked at as an accepted and almost welcome sort of ‘price we have to pay’ for the privilege of Christmas. Is that too crazy an idea? I mean having to pull back a little in the New Year due to our Christmas spending and to think of ways to, in the coming year, be more thoughtful and careful in our spending?
(Remember: Something given that hurts the giver a little – and yet is not complained about - is considered a better gift by some).
Could we, as a result of (thoughtless and worry-inducing) Christmas spending, be less of a consumer in the coming year?
Could we continue to think more of others – and value them – and think less of ourselves?
And carry the Christmas spirit further?
And…be grateful that we have the money to spend - even if we are still paying it off in 2016!?
I think Steven Pinker’s book about “Our Better Angels” mentions the ‘better angels’ of:
Just four attributes we should all cultivate at this time of year ~ and then have a