So I’m a day late and a few dollars short on my holiday wishes, for which I can only plead the excuse of driving all over my home state to various family gatherings over the last couple of days. The driving is a chore, of course, but the company is worth the trouble, and I must consider myself fortunate to have the family that I do. Nonetheless, I hope my readers have had an excellent Christmas and will enjoy a fruitful and prosperous new year. Typically, I am not the best at holiday well-wishes – to the point that I deliberately invoke The Grinch on a regular basis during the holiday season. Not, I should note, because I dislike Christmas, but because I believe a lot of folks have lost their way.
I won’t lecture you too deeply about the meaning of Christmas and the deeper mysteries of Christian faith – that is for other, and better souls. What I will say is that every year I am disappointed by the Black Friday rushes, the obsession with Apple products, the advertisements for new cars (always with a bow on them – as if that $30,000 automobile doesn’t come with a hefty payment that lasts far after Christmas is past). In Jim Carrey’s version of The Grinch, the titular character laments on how all the cheesy unwanted gifts wind up on his mountain, and you get the impression that the character is the way he is because he loathes the envy and greed behind the season.
Somebody once said that money is the root of all evil. But I’ve never believed that. Envy is the root. It is simply that, in a society that runs on money instead of barter, money is the means by which envy expresses itself. Like how a pen and paper are not evil in themselves, but an evil man may use them to write evil things. The envious man works likewise with regards to money. There is so much envy in the holidays each year, it is profoundly disappointing to me.
So yes, it’s so common it’s surely a cliche. But try and remember what is important. Christ was born, and for this we celebrate. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb often says, let us not mix the profane and the Holy. That is, in this blogger’s opinion, the real mistake we often make. The consumer goods, the toys, new cars, iPads, and cheesy gifts soon to find their way to the dump… on their own, these are the profane. But if there is love for family and friends behind the gifts, if envy and jealousy aren’t a part of it, if there is celebration of our faith underneath it, then it is something different.
I know my readers understand. And I am grateful for all of you.
Merry Christmas, have a happy New Year.
God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us.