Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Defense of the "Commercialization of Christmas."


Every year, as predictable as the arrival of winter, comes criticism about the commercialization of Christmas. We are told that Christ has been taken out of Christmas because we spend too much money on Christmas gifts and because stores have rendered Christmas little more than a great time to sell merchandise.

If there is a better example of people complaining about something that is overwhelmingly good, I would like to know what it is. One time each year, a majority of people feel obligated to buy gifts for their friends and relatives. It is a time when we go to stores, not for ourselves, but with the needs and wants of others in mind.

Here is a good rule governing criticizing: Before you criticize something, imagine its alternative. Imagine that when Christmas came around stores put up no decorations and no one bought gifts. Would we be a better society? Of course not! Spending money on gifts for others is one of the nicest traditions in society and ought to be cultivated, not discouraged. People who don't buy Christmas gifts aren't noble, they are cheap.

Another objection is that some people spend out of obligation, not out of love. Again, think of the alternative. If we were to encourage only altruistic acts that come from love, few people would get married or have children, and almost no gifts would ever be exchanged. It is none of my business to judge why other people give Christmas gifts. It is only for me to appreciate the fact that they do. Christmas is greatly honored by gift giving. When you buy Christmas gifts, you bring joy to the recipients, you feel good about giving, you spend time thinking about what other people like, you keep many businesses alive, and most of all, you honor God by reciprocating, in the lives of others, His gift to us – Jesus, the Christ.

2 comments:

kerrie said...

Unfortunately the overwhelming message is not gift giving but rather a time we can rightfully reward ourselves with things we feel we deserve regardless of the cost. It is a time many are wooed to spend more than they have to get things for themselves that they don't need.

I love the idea of gift giving but commercialization of Christmas has distorted it badly.

Charles North said...

Hey Kerrie
That is true. I get angry that many businesses seem to take advantage of the season and people's goodness. Perhaps my message would have been better if I titled it, "In Defense of Gift-Giving."

Merry Christmas to you and the family!