Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why I Love the Commercialism of Christmas!

 Why I Love the Commercialism of Christmas!
(No Jokes--No Hidden Meaning)
Thomas W. Shepherd, D.Min.

I really love it. Mall parking lots clogged with car headlights like a starry night sky in the country. Inane, convivial music wafting over hordes of harried, hopeful, hesitantly happy holiday hunters. Shop 'til you're top-heavy, arms full of packages, box-crammed plastic bags dangling from every finger.
Sure, it's an ordeal. Sure, I procrastinate every year. Sure, I spend in December, then spend January through October paying off the credit cards. Sure, I talk to myself like a pit bull puppy at obedience school: Bad boy, bad prosperity teacher—shame on you! But I don't care.

Do you hear that, world? I don't care!
I love this inane, over-rated, superficial, commercialized hollow-day like Jesus must have loved little children and the first sunshine on Easter morning. And I have three reasons.
1) Christmas provides an excuse to move closer to people. Lord knows, if you’ve read my writing, you must realize I love good questions and good ideas. But even the best ideas can only get you to the threshold of a happy life. You need not denigrate the intellect in order to say humanity shall not live by thoughts alone. Good relationships are more important than good ideas.
A few years ago, the actress Winona Ryder was sentenced to community service and a fine for shoplifting. Her problems didn't start there. Listen to what she says about her early life and the need for healthy relationships:
When I was 18, I was driving around at two in the morning, completely crying and alone and scared. I drove by this magazine stand that had this Rolling Stone that I was on the cover of, and it said, “Winona Ryder: The Luckiest Girl in the World.” And there I was feeling more alone than I ever had.[1]
          Christmas crowds people, badgers them, makes them open their sacks and offer tokens of love to people we spend too much time avoiding. Christmas makes us vulnerable, duty-bound to honor the possible...We could possibly be friends...we could possibly work together without in-fighting or envy...we could possibly get along, maybe even like each other. Oh, of course, our cynical patterns of error-belief try to tell us it won't happen. But for one brief shining moment, we allow ourselves to pretend it is all so...possible.

2) Christmas changes everybody's (or most people's) internal thermometer to warm-up setting. Some people say they see auras. Mine has been described as several colors by several different people; I don't know what that means. Either the seers are not seeing the same thing, or my spiritual energy has a chameleon setting. Whatever.
Christmas, however, transforms the psychological world of humanity like a wave of many colors, sweeping across the mindscape to warm the human psyche. Sure, it stresses people and drives some into the cold of despair...but the warm, soothing default for the season still plays in the background from every station in the inter-locking network of endless Christmas music: Do you hear what I hear? Joy to the world! Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas! I'll Be Home...if only in my dreams...

3) Christmas gives us an excuse to hope. All right—maybe the angels decorating the mall were made in Shanghai and most of the gifts won't survive to Valentine’s Day, so what? Do you remember that old truism, “It's the thought that counts...”? Well, as a Unity minister, I now realize the text should read: “It's the THINKING that counts!”
Fighting the crowds can be read as mingling with the holiday throngs, while those harried chores and endless items to cross off lists, can just as easily be read as joyful preparations and lots of fun stuff to do. (Stop muttering those naughty words. I'm just trying to work an affirmation here...) Even if it sounds idealistic—or maybe because of it—Christmas gives humanity an opportunity to pause and believe, if only for a little while, that peace on earth and goodwill are actually possible. For one brief shining moment, humanity recognizes that heaven and earth are coextensive.
So, if you haven't been to a crowded shopping space yet this year, or if you’re wondering how late the discount stores stays open Christmas Eve, or if you just want to go window-gazing again—let me suggest a radical departure: Bless the mall! See the shopping centers as holy ground. Go to the crowded places and say a silent prayer, that all these people may have someone to give and receive love, and the spirit of prosperity may spread across the human species, so the true gift of Christmas may be born in everyone's heart. If that doesn’t raise your prosperity consciousness, buy a nice gift and send it to yourself...

[1] Winona Ryder, quoted by Plugged In, Vol. 6, no. 4 (April 2001).

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