Materialism and Christmas


Sometimes I find it frustrating that in the secular world the Christmas season begins before Thanksgiving and the emphasis is all on buying gifts. We live in a very material world where there is always something bigger and better around the corner that we “must have.”

But let’s think about the real reason for the season – Jesus – and His rejection of possessions. He was born in a stable and laid in a manger that didn’t belong to his parents. When He began his ministry, He relied on the kindness of others to provide for Him and took no possessions with Him. He preached from a boat that didn’t belong to Him but to His disciples. The Last Supper took place in a room that was borrowed from a friend. Even the tomb He was laid in after His crucifixion did not belong to Him.

Clearly Jesus put no emphasis on physical possessions. In fact, Jesus told a rich young man that the sure way to salvation was to give away all he had and come follow Him. This rich young man turned away saddened because it was too hard to give away his possessions. The things of this world will fade away, but the things of heaven will be eternal.

Where will we spend our time and money this Christmas season? How can we celebrate the season with our children and de-emphasize the focus on gifts?



The Christmas season is here,
The jingle bells time of year,
Christmas trees and mistletoe,
Greeting cards and ho! ho! ho!
Christmas lights twinkle bright,
Decorations make the eyes delight,
Candy canes, bows of red and gold,
The most joyous season to behold,
Shoppers rush to fill the malls,
Singing Carols like, Deck the halls,
Kid’s take pictures on Santa’s lap,
Tugging his beard, and his red cap,
Chilly wind driven snows,
Melting on Rudolph’s beaming red nose,
As he leads the giant toy filed sleigh,
Santa shouts, up! up! and away!
Christmas Eve, what a glorious night,
Parents tuck the kids in tight,
Fantasizing as they drift away,
To dream about the coming day,
The happiest time for girls and boys,
As they dash to the tree to open their toys,
Thank God for this joyous, exciting season,
We celebrate it for only one reason,
In Bethlehem a stable glows,
With an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes,
Our Savior Jesus Christ, is the only reason,
We celebrate, The Christmas Season.

Merry Christmas!


You tool the words right out of my mouth! :slight_smile:

This is why I loathe Christmas- or at least, what Christmas has become.

I don’t find it difficult to concentrate on the real meaning of Christmas though. Gifts are something that have to mean something. We don’t buy rakes of stuff for the kids, just little exciting bits really. This year we’re going skiing for Christmas. Obviously this limits the presents and also provides a full on family Christmas!


De-emphasize the focus on gifts? I wouldn’t do that, everyday is filled with gifts and none the less Christmas. I would emphasize the focus on gifts on the real gifts, which are not material.


I have no trouble at all focusing on the real meaning of the season we are in know, still ordinary time for a few days, and Advent, the season we are approaching, which is what I will be celebrating in December, or Christimas, which I and my family will be celebrating from Dec. 24 vespers to Candelaria Feb. 2. That is because I bought out of the secular season years ago. My family went along with the liturgical year rather than the Mass Marketing year along with me when they were at home, and still try to in their own families.

I will not be inside a mall or Stuff-Mart from TG to after New Year’s barring a dire emergency like plumbing supplies from home depot or something similar. I will do my limited gift shopping on line, and as my grandchildren already know their gifts–tokens, not attempts to buy their love or to compete with other grandparents–will be delivered sometime after Christmas. they know they still have something to look forward to, hopefully, and time to enjoy it.

Our actual holidays, unless we are out of town with relatives, are spent serving a dinner at SA or a Catholic Charities agency, we have done this since my children were small, and DD still does with her kids at least once a year. We will fast and sacrifice in some small ways during Advent. Our parish has an Advent project for families and a series of mini-retreats, which we will take part in.

Christmas decorations will go up Dec. 16 as we will observe las posadas, the novena of Christmas, and stay up until 3 kings day, when we will participate in a parish fiesta. Whoever finds the baby in the Kings Cake will have a party on Feb. 2 and we will rest in ordinary time for a couple of weeks until Lent begins.

My grandchildren will also receive small gifts at unexpected times during the year, for no reason at all, and we will get together with all 4 kids and their families each year in July at some resort for our family celebration, since we are all so far away from each other. Then we do a gift exchange with names drawn from a virtual hat, but the emphasis will be on games and shared activities.

You do not have to let the hype get you down if you don’t want to. I told my kids when they were very small, if you see it advertised on TV, don’t even ask, because you will not be getting it for Christmas. they might have gotten that toy, but later in the year for a birthday or next year, but not in response to insidious child-directed ads.


I’m going to come at this from a different angle.

We all know that the West (and America) has become increasingly secular in its outlook. This translates to large groups of people who don’t spend any (or little) time exploring their faith and seeking the goals of the secular world.

The problem with that, of course, is that it’s empty. That’s why we are so depressed as a nation. That’s why the people in hollywood get divorced every three years, it’s why we are so dark and nihilistic as a culture. We are empty, and on some level, we know it.

The thing is, Christmas still holds some magic for lots of people. Yes, there has been a concerted effort to divorce the holiday from Christ. Yes, it has become materialistic.

But from a secularist’s point of view, it’s a time that he can feel good about giving something. It’s a time of good will. It’s the closest to spirituality that he might get. Remember, the secularist really does think that possessions are the most important things in life. Therefore, the giving and receiving of items actually has emotional resonance.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s the closest some people will ever get to really feeling the joy of Christ. It’s still somewhat empty in comparison to the real deal, but it’s better than nothing at all.

So, while I’m not completely happy that Christmas has increasingly become a secular holiday, I understand that people are still reaching for something important, however imperfectly.


When I get upset over the crazy Christmas shopping crowds and all the STUFF pushed in our faces at this time of year, this is what helps me: Just think that all those people who are rushing around buying gifts, are buying them for other people! They’re thinking of others, not necessarily themselves. It’s not much fun standing in long lines and going from store to store in search of the perfect gift–it’s really, in many ways, selfless of them.

But still, we always try to have Christmas shopping finished by Thanksgiving :slight_smile:


I think it is ridiculous the way Christmas is portrayed these days. I saw on the news where people would camp outside of a store overnight to be first in line to get a toy that most kids would get bored with after three days. People were even getting in fights over their place in line. I try to experience the Christmas season as it should be; a religious and spiritual time. I get much peace that way.



We’re taking a trip to NYC instead of buying toys and gadgets that we would use only for a few weeks and then toss aside. Memories are better gifts than objects (even if they do cost a little more) IMHO


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