Friday, December 24, 2010

I Love Christmas

No matter how stressful the holidays can be, I love Christmas. I love gifts - the giving and the receiving. I love the myths and the magic around the holidays - Santa Claus and the elves and how excited all this makes our kids. I love the movies and the songs and the candy and the food. And of course, I love the religious parts of the Christmas celebration, the holiness of that sacred night when a Savior was born.

It's easy to get all huffy about the commercialization of the holidays - I remember my parents giving me this lecture actually.

But being a parent, I love living vicariously through my kids I must say. I remember how fun it was on Christmas eve singing carols with my family and then I would go to bed early because I wanted Christmas morning to arrive as quickly as possible and how hard it was to go to sleep. I love the thought that my kids will be in the same situation I once was. My parents struggled with the holidays, but my older sisters often stepped in, and I really appreciate this gift from them.

I think its easy to get huffy about the holidays (watch the above video for a lot of extra huffiness) and I can relate to it - I got a little bit huffy about Disneyland a while back. But you know what turned me on to Disneyland, other than the general downright fun of it of course? It was while I was on the wildly fun "Souring Over California" ride and at the end, there's that famous Disneyland fairy that fly's over Disneyland while the fire works go off. In that one second, the whole thing clicked for me. The magic and the fun of Disneyland - all of the movies of Disney and the rides and the fun. I bought it into it.

I guess, more generally, I love commerce, yes I love the commercialization of Christmas and all of the holidays for that matter. At the heart of it, this is nothing more than what each of us collectively pours our heart and soul in to produce. Receiving a gift with joy is just celebrating the art produced by another person. Sure, a lot of this depends on what we bring to the holiday. And there's more than enough rope to hang yourself in our society. But when properly consumed, Christmas can be an incredibly uplifting holiday. Of course, it doesn't matter how much or how little money a person has, but its a holiday where we can enjoy a little excess no matter how small that excess may be. Or hopefully, if someone's a little short and literally has no excess, someone else will reach out and share what they have with another.

After all, we are all in this together. Let's celebrate and share with one another. But giving a gift requires a receiver - and both those who give a gift and those who receive it can find joy in these holidays and in these very exchanges this holiday promotes.

Seth Godin talks about gifts here.

"When done properly, gifts work like nothing else. A gift gladly accepted changes everything. The imbalance creates motion, motion that pushes us to a new equilibrium, motion that creates connection.

The key is that the gift must be freely and gladly accepted. Sending someone a gift over the transom isn't a gift, it's marketing. Gifts have to be truly given, not given in anticipation of a repayment. True gifts are part of being in a community (willingly paying taxes for a school you will never again send your grown kids to) and part of being an artist (because the giving motivates you to do ever better work).

Plus, giving a gift feels good."

Merry Christmas everyone.


Hoopswim said...

I'm going to comment... I love Christmas too! I hope you all have a fantastically good one this year. Love you all!! =) As the British say, Happy Christmas!

tempe turley said...

Thanks Suzie. You are the master gift giver - no wonder you love Christmas so much. Thanks so much for the incredibly thoughtful gift you gave to us!

H said...

Well said, Scott. I like your honesty. Sometimes I think it takes commercialism and fairies to bring out the best in people. Disneyland does that as we lose ourselves for a day or two. That's what is magical about it. That's what is magical about Christmas. Behind all that magic, the reason we love it so much, is the happiness attached to the hope it brings us. And that hope is what Christmas is all about, isn't it? Hope in things to come; hope in the birth of our Savior; hope and faith and charity. Thanks for the post.