Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Different Approach to Celebrating Christmas

The last few posts have focused on my disagreement with (and dismay over) the modern consumer frenzy, which the celebration of Christ’s birth has become.  I’d like to end this series of posts with different visions for how we might choose to celebrate future Christmases.  The first comes from children’s literature.

I like to read with my kids and last summer we read Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It was a fascinating read on many levels.  I don’t think I ever read it as a child.  As an adult, it is now interesting to read a child's perspective of a white family who attempted to homestead in land set aside for Native Americans.  Though our family was shocked and taken aback by the ugly attitudes of the white homesteaders towards the Native Americans, there were many other parts of the book that we enjoyed.  We were particularly intrigued by how the Ingalls family celebrated Christmas. 
Even over a hundred years ago in a remote part of the United States, Christmas was apparently a very special occasion.  But living in an isolated prairie farm, there was no question of indulging in an orgy of materialism.  Instead, there were just a couple simple gifts, for which the Ingalls children were truly grateful.  The author describes that her few treats were almost too much and she was overwhelmed by the bounty. 

That was an amazing characterization to a modern day reader like me.  When I read it, I was thinking that most American children today (my own included) would have turned up their noses and thought themselves quite deprived if they had only received the few simple gifts the Ingalls children received at Christmas.  Nonetheless, life on a remote prairie homestead was hard; there were few diversions or treats.  The couple of simple gifts they received on Christmas were cherished.  The bulk of the day was spent enjoying each others’ company and a special meal.  Gifts were not the main focus.

Psalm 66:8

Bless our God, O peoples, give Him grateful thanks and make the voice of His praise be heard.

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