If your house is anything like mine, you’ve been receiving all of the circulars and advertisements for Pre-Christmas sales, Black Friday sales, and the ever-popular Holiday sales. I’ve also been receiving a fair amount of email advertisements to try to get me to make my special purchases in time for those special items to be shipped to all of those special people on my list. All of the advertising I can ignore in my effort to maintain my Christmas neutrality. (My new mantra – “I am Switzerland!”) After all, I don’t plan on spending much at all this year. I owe nothing to those Madison Avenue types that are trying to separate me from my money in an effort to make me feel guilty for not taking part in their idea of “spreading Christmas cheer” which inevitably ends up with me owing money on my credit cards well after I get tan lines and mosquito bites in the new year.
But guilt started to set in the other day as I went through my mail. I received my first Christmas card of the year. Now I’ll be honest. I have never been really good about getting out my Christmas cards most years. But I at least look them over in the store and talk to wife about the possibility of getting them out at some point before Christmas most years. But as part of my “Swiss” Christmas, I am not even planning on sending out cards this year. To be honest, I hadn’t given it much more than a passing thought until I went to my mailbox that day.
So here I sit contemplating what to do about this Christmas card. How do I maintain my neutrality toward Christmas in this situation? If I open it, do I somehow waive my position by taking part in this Christmas ritual? If I don’t open it, is that rude on some level? And what if I don’t contact this person by sending a return Christmas card? What if I see them at some event and they ask me if I received their card? What do I say then? This is suddenly getting more difficult. Okay, maybe this “Swiss” Christmas thing was a bit drastic. Maybe we can do a “French” Christmas instead. You know, we could talk a good talk but then end up caving in the end.
But wait. Why am I doing this in the first place? I’m not skipping Christmas to avoid the season all together. I’m pretty sure that Robyn and I want to rediscover what Christmas is actually about. I don’t exactly know why this person sent me a Christmas card, but I don’t think it was to give me a moral dilemma or to make me feel guilty. On the contrary, it was probably sent out to take this opportunity to say “Hi” to friends that don’t see each other too often in this far-too-busy world. It was probably just a way of saying “we’re thinking of you” and “we miss you”.
So I’ll open this Christmas card (and all of the other ones that come) and I’ll say a prayer of thanks for people that love me and my family. And some night in the not-so-distant future, I’ll take a moment to write them a note letting them know that I’m thinking of them, too. Maybe I’ll even wait until next month so they can pause just as I’ve done and be thankful for the community of love and friendship that surrounds them as well.