’TIS THE SEASON TO LOOK BEYOND OUR OWN FAMILY
THERE is much to celebrate as we look towards the holiday break and the festive season, as families unite to enjoy the special moments that this time of year brings. Gathering with our loved ones, some we may not have seen since the last festivities, as we acknowledge another year has disappeared, and the children have grown, while parents and grandparents have aged.
So much planning goes into where we will get together and celebrate, how much sleep we hope to catch up on and how much extra food we need to feed the extended family and friends who call in over the holidays. Just the mere thought of preparing for Christmas Day itself sends many families into major planning and preparation mode to execute the perfect Christmas Day.
The excitement of the younger children as they pray and hope for certain gifts, and the decorations that fill the house, takes us back to our childhood when life seemed so simple. Yet, as we look to the holidays with great anticipation, I cannot help but look beyond the celebrations and wonder about those who celebrate Christmas alone. The young and the old who somehow have disconnected with family. For many it will be the first year of celebrating without a loved one, still grieving the loss of their soulmate. For others it is perhaps a time of year when they prefer to be alone and move on to the new year.
It is also important to recognise that not everyone celebrates Christmas – a Christian holiday and a Western, capitalist phenomenon. It is often imposed on individuals who are not Christians, nor do they wish to buy into a money-making scheme.
We should respect others for their religious or cultural beliefs and allow them to have a space to practise their religion. While we are indulging in the holiday season, we often forget about the injustices that many people face in our society, and we need to be conscious about those who may not be able to share the same happy, joyful narrative.
Christmas is a time when distinct comparisons can be made between the “haves” and “have-nots”. Poverty is a massive, worldwide problem in all countries and during the festive season, poor individuals are often forgotten about and neglected. The capitalist gimmick of buying expensive gifts overshadows the fact that so much money could go towards alleviating poverty.
For ’tis the season to give and rejoice – yet given the cautious headwinds forecast by the global turmoil and uncertainty, it is the time to think twice about our giving and where we should direct such generosity. How much do our children really need and could we share this generosity and give outside our family to help another family. It is not the type or size of gift that matters, it is how we can make a difference to someone else who finds this time of year a difficult period to enjoy with the same sense of belonging.
Maybe it is time for each of us to consider if we are overspending, overindulging for a brief period of enjoyment, with the new year to remind us of the need to reduce all excesses and be more modest in what we do.
Perhaps we could all apply this modest way of thinking before we race out and buy endless supplies of goods and gifts to satisfy the family.
After all, isn’t the most important thing that we acknowledge is our joy and happiness of just catching up with friends and family and living in the moment, to be grateful for what we have and not ungrateful for what we do not have.
Why wait for the new year before adopting a more modest approach? Being frugal is not being mean or going without. It is being more considered in what we eat and what we give.
This Christmas, let’s be mindful of the importance of gratitude. A time when a gift should come from the heart. As we recall Christ’s message “to love thy neighbour’’, take time to think about giving a helping hand to individuals who are less fortunate. In doing so, we should not discriminate to whom we extend a helping hand.
Even if it is just one person you pass by, a simple action from the heart can make a difference. After all, we are the “leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch” under the umbrella of the oneness of humanity.