Jan 13, 2012
It’s over. The parties, the feasts, the gifts, the returns, the re-gifting, the feverish spending of gift card money. The leftovers are finally gone. The cakes and pies and candies and all of the other things that we accumulate but do not eat have been thrown away. Trees are back in their boxes or they are sitting by the street waiting to be mulched. Stockings are stored in dark cabinets and Nativity scenes have been carefully wrapped and put away for next year. The Christmas season, as wonderful as it was, is (mercifully?) finished.
Given that our festive excess has ended, that the bacchanalia of year-end excitement is done, perhaps it is time for an evaluation. Without doubt, anyone who is reading this column has been exhorted, certainly during the Advent Season, and perhaps even during Christmas itself, to heroically shun or, at the very least, to mildly reduce holiday materialism and excess. And like most good Catholics, we listen to the homilies and read the articles about returning to the kernel of Christmas that centers around the coming of Jesus, and we make all sorts of resolutions to keep our spending and our eating and our general excess in check, but when it is all over, we mostly find our resolutions have been as ineffectual as those made in haste on New Year’s Day and casually forgotten by Epiphany.
The simple fact is that we are a frequently, but briefly, resolved people.
Since I have been in seminary, I have been convinced intellectually that giving gifts on Christmas Day is a bad idea. It takes away from the celebration of the birth of Christ, and it contributes to the societal misconception under which we all too often operate that Christmas is a day instead of a season.