Throwback Thursday: A week before Christmas 40 years ago
Few customs have suffered more than the custom of giving gifts at Christmas. Commercialism and exploitation are two of the chief malefactors; sentimentality is another
But for all the super merchandising, the phony glitter and the abuse of carols and even the scriptures, giving gifts continues to be a simple, generous response to the ultimate generosity which Christmas Celebrates.
The miracle may be measured in store receipts, but it remains a miracle, nevertheless that so many are moved by the Christmas season to freely give.
Some give too much, perhaps, and others give unwisely, or in the hope of receiving. Some miss the extraordinary opportunities for giving to the poor, the disadvantaged, the groping, the isolated, the very old. Some are blinded by the tinsel and excitement, deafened by the cash-register obbligato accompanying the carols.
Cynicism corrupts the Christmas giving of some, perhaps, and secularism nearly drowns the many-splendored thing. But is not just a vast commercial hoax to stimulate buying and selling, no matter how extensively Christmas has become a big business.
No, it is something else, something deeper in the nature of men and women that has about it a primitive simplicity. It is a natural, even childlike tendency to express joy through generosity, through sharing.
Christmas gift-giving definitely needs reforming, and it takes only a little imagination to discover many of the readily available means. But there is no need to root out the practice. On the contrary, there is every reason to cultivate the virtue of generosity, to restore the joyful aspects of gift-giving, to remember what is that the custom responds to. There’s scarcely another human activity so appropriate to Christmas as giving. And there’s scarcely an area of anyone’s life that can so certainly stand improvement than the area of generosity.
Who would be selfish, when so much is given?