With every year, the holiday season becomes more commercialized and less meaningful. Though many would like to put the blame on secular liberals or those who practice tolerance for others’ faiths, the real culprit is our consumer culture. All too much of our sense of self is bound up in the car we drive or the label on our clothes.
People spend so much time during the fall figuring out what to buy who and how to afford all of the gifts. We run up millions of dollars of credit card bills simply to give our loved ones more stuff that they really may not even need. Not to mention the levels of stress and anxiety on both the gift giver and receiver.
Sure, there is an intangible and inherent value in giving a gift. It holds symbolic power and displays our affections. But is there not another way to bring about those same ends?
I believe that there is. And that would be by giving of yourself to those who are in need. It is no secret that we are in the midst of one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression. There are scores of people who not only won’t have presents on Passover Hanukkah or Christmas, but won’t have a home-cooked meal or their own bed in which to have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
The poor are all around us. They are black, white and brown. Young and old. Of all faiths or no faith at all. They are veterans and former factory workers. But all share one thing in common- they are human. Just like you. Just like me.
So, as you prepare for the rush of the season, think about how you can make this world a little better for those who have so little. Think about what matters more- a new gadget for your loved one or a meal for a hungry family; another item of designer clothing for someone with a closet full or winter coats for the homeless; another three hours of holiday partying or taking the time to befriend a kid in a shelter.
Whether you are religious or not, this time of the year is set aside to come together and give thanks and spread love. We need to reach out deeper and be sure to share our love with all of our family. The family of humankind. For when we all share in love and kindness, we make this world a truly blessed place.