Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas contrasts

I was struck by an article in this morning's paper about a growing trend in Christmas decoration. There are quite a few people who are spending thousands of dollars on increasingly more dazzling (and costly) Christmas displays designed, at least in part, to out-do the neighbors. This is defined in the article as "holiday spirit." The extravagence (not to mention the trivial "kitsch factor") is breath-taking.

This is quite a contrast to the annual Christmas letter from Sister Tricia of Covenant House - a Christian charity whose mission is to take in homeless and runaway children who would otherwise suffer at the hands of the elements and predatory criminals who exploit them. Covenant House is always stretched financially thin, and they become particularly desperate in the winter months.

What a contrasting view of Christmas between the former and the latter.

I like Christmas lights as much as the next guy, but how much is enough? Is it fair to say that our cultural priorities are off kilter? What irony that Christmas is the celebration of the Almighty humbling Himself for the sake of others, but to many in the secular culture, Christmas is about glorifying the self for the sake of the self - with no concern for the others. How can one not call to mind the canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary who pondered the meaning of the Lord's Incarnation and sang:

"He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away."

The irony of what Christmas has become could have come out of one of the Screwtape Letters.

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