I write this on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Thus far, anyone with a television or a newspaper has been buried under the ads for Black Friday, which starts on Thursday, and even earlier in some places than last year.  Eat your Thanksgiving meal and give thanks, take a nap and spend the night buying stuff.  Granted we have a tradition of gift giving at Christmas, but is it possible we have gone overboard on the drive to buy?

In the Nov. 14, 2012 issue of The Christian Century, I read an article taken from the journal Weavings (Nov.-Jan.).  “Marilyn McEntyre suggests some very practical ways that American Christians can work against a self-centered consumerism and toward concerns for the neighbor and community.  Begin every day for a month asking the question, ‘What can I share today?’  ‘What do I have that might be given away?’  See if a room at church can be found to use as a ‘sharing station’ where tools, utensils, clothing or books could be stored for others’ use.  Talk on the phone with someone who may be lonely for 15 minutes two or three times a week.  Host dinner-and-documentary nights to discuss public problems with a view to finding and working for solutions.  Commit to a steady-state household.  If something new comes in, then something else goes out.  ‘Who is my neighbor?’ is a question we cannot afford to consign to cliché, McEntyre says.”

All of us have encountered people who may be borderline hoarders, and a few who may have crossed the border.  Could the attitude of our society that demands us to be huge consumers lend itself to this problem?

At Christmas we celebrate the God given gift of the infant Jesus.  We emulate this by giving gifts to others.  But does the current demand that we insanely consume goods in the name of Christmas reflect the meaning of this season?  God gave us a gift of welcome and inclusion in His family.  Jesus became a gift of learning—learning to love each other, to set aside worry, to find satisfaction in doing for others rather than others doing for us.

In a time when people are struggling with a weak economy and un- and under- employment, could we as Christians behave more like the one whose birth we are celebrating?  Give gifts to family and friends, but share with your neighbor as you are able.  Make your gifts reflect your faith rather than the latest ad on TV or the advertising push for “what everyone needs”.

May your Christmas be a blessing to you and your family, and may it lead you to be a blessing to others.

Shalom, Darrell