As I was reading the editorial page of our local paper, today (December 8, 2007), I became quite sad. Here's what led to my deep sigh of sadness.
The "Golden Pen" Award (for letters that are concise and well written and express strong opinions) was given to a gentleman in his later years, for a letter he'd submitted last month. The title was, "Tolerance ebbing in the 21st century." I found his words upseting, but true. He said, "I am no fan of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has to be the quintessential Mr. Flip-Flop. But when his father, George, ran for president in 1968, a mere eight years after John F. Kennedy dragged religious tolerance in America into the 20th century, no one asked any question about his Mormon religion." He goes on to note that we Americans have become less tolerant of religion, all religions, over the years... and that we shouldn't point fingers.
Well, I'm going off the deep end a bit, but...not only do I agree with him, and not only does it make me sad, but I want to vent on something that has been bothering me: the overdoing of Christmas.
I want to ask all the Christians who light up their homes with hundreds of blinking, colored lights...and decorate their yards with reindeer and Santas and all manner of 'stuff'... if they think all those decorations are what this holiday is really about?
Don't get me wrong, I love a beautifully decorated home. The holly and mistletoe, the candles and shiny wrapping paper, the cookies and candies, are all wonderful and delicious. But, why do some people have to have...tons and tons of the stuff?
I wonder, when I see an elaborately decorated house blinking away like a Broadway Show, what other uses that energy and $$ could be put to. If people who decorate their houses and yards until you can't see a sliver of wood or a blade of grass (or any flakes of snow) were to tone down, pull back...go halfway, instead of all the way... maybe they could donate the extra $$ they WON'T be spending on electricty, to their local Foodlink or the Salvation Army. Maybe, they could cook dinner (or donate the food for dinner) for a homeless person. Maybe they could contribute to something like our Pirate Toy Fund. Maybe...they could get real.
Real enough to get back to simplicity. The simplicity and honor of what this holiday was meant to be. Isn't it about thanks, and family, and sharing, and recognizing that humanity is ONE race, one PEOPLE, ONE HEART... pumping to the beat of a better tomorrow?
So, after reading Gil French's letter - noting a growing sense of religious intolerance in America - I have to agree with him and go one step further and ask, "Why do we tolerate ostentatiousness, but not sincere religious beliefs?"
When, I want to know, will sales professionals and retailers just say, "NO! No, I will not put decorations out before Thanksgiving. No, I will not cram every corner with tinsle and garland and fake Santa Clauses. No, I will not make promises I have no intention of keeping...just to lure people into my store. No, I will not disrespect this religious experience in the name of consumerism."
And, exactly when will consumers say, "No! No, I will not overspend so my kids can have everything their friends have." And, "No, I will not overspend on decorating -- just to keep up with my neighbors."
How about this? How about we all stop and think: is this what the story of Jesus is all about? How about we count our heartfelt reasons to celebrate and instead of decorating until our yard looks like an airport runway, or our house looks like an overstocked craft store? How about we put a little something extra in the Salvation Army kettle, or share our good fortune with kids who will not get to the mall to sit on Santa's lap? How about we do Christmas right - we share. With others. And not waste time, money, or energy... that could be used to help the needy. How about we really, no REALLY, abide by Tiny Tim's words, "God Bless Us Every One."
How about that?