The person I knew most consumed with money and material things was an ideologue who could enjoy nothing, because they were continuously upset about money and material things. They would rant at even a whiff of gift giving, because all they could see was evil.
Evidently they believed it was more blessed not to give and not to receive. They should have let Jesus know. Christmas is a great excuse to give gifts and one hopes everyone will give as much as possible: to the poor, to family, to charity- thoughtfully, generously, joyfully.
Feasting can lead to gluttony, a good wine to a binge, and love to lust. Nothing is so good that it cannot be spoilt and gift giving is one such thing. Whilst nobody gives up on eating, drinking, or love as they are too vital, some pretend we can or should give up on gift giving.
We did not shop on Black Friday. Why? We were too busy decorating and engaging in other Holiday jollification. Meanwhile, the Scrooges will be out in full force soon to tell us why shopping is bad, because consumerism, materialism, and, for all I know, Rosicrucianism.
Consumerism is bad. Do not live to consume.
Materialism is bad. Stuff will not make you happy.
Rosicrucianism? That’s simply mad. There is an infallible rule that a sentence (not referring to such sentences) containing both the words “Atlantis” and Rosicrucian is fascinatingly insane.
If you do not know and live this, start. None of this should cause you to avoid the gift of giving and of shopping.
So as you shop, as you buy jolly gifts, avoid buying useless stuff nobody needs, clean out stuff you do not need while you buy, and give generously to charity. That is what Advent is designed to do!Meanwhile, plot and plan on thoughtful gifts to bring joy to family, friends, and neighbors. Plan a party, read a play together, give the gift of time, but do not be afraid to bring material gifts. All year I figure just what will make Hope, the Fairest Flower in Christendom, happy on Christmas Day. She abhors waste, does not like spending too much money, but loves music, thoughtfulness, and useful things. I have gotten her power tools, kitchen mixers, musical instruments for The School and College, and an assortment of other jolly stuff. My (now adult) children are a pleasure to honor with something thoughtful: clothing, games for some organized fun, or a vacation together.
My dad and mom taught me the joy of giving with the corollary duty to shop as a boy. Dad told me about Christmas at the end of the Depression and the start of World War II. Mom’s mother, our Nana, was splendid at Christmas. The gifts were simple, but she wrote Christmas pageants and enjoyed the season as much as anyone I have known. The cost of the gift does not matter at all. Hope and I have never tried to balance monetary value in what we give. We get what people need or what might change their lives for the better.
Does a family member need a laptop for school? Ebay beckons to buy a used, but awesome tool.
The joy of giving comes from anticipation and participation. When I get an excellent gift, I get to anticipate Hope receiving it: joy! If I have chosen wisely, then I get to see the joy of the gift being used (often for years). Sometimes I have done . . . Poorly. . .as in the early days of our marriage when an expensive suit of clothes was the wrong size and a friend got the gift. Jolly good fun and a great story in the more expanded version.
(Two rules from this story for the early gift giver looking at clothing:
1. Women’s sizes are very, very odd. If your beloved is a size 2, then the size 2 you buy may actually be a size 4. Trust your eyes.
2. The sales clerk at the typical store is not the same age, lacks the same taste or background as your beloved. Do not trust her . . . Do not.)
Our failures have been as excellent as our successes as they made good gifts to friends or simply existed as legendary failures.