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Opinion: The holiday season brings out best and worst

Contributed

Christmas brings out the needy, greedy, seedy, and unheedy. It is the best of times. It is the worst of times.

The needy. This is the time of year for giving to those who are less fortunate. The charities in this country are phenomenal, both national and local. Top charities include: Toys for Tots, Make a Wish Foundation, Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree, Salvation Army. And myriad local nonprofit organizations that reach out with warm food, warm blankets, and warm hearts. Churches prepare meals for the homeless population and others in need of a celebratory dinner.

The greedy. Has Santa become the patron saint of greed? Gimme more—echoes in decorated homes and buy more—echoes in Tinseltown stores. “Hence Saint Nicholas slipped his Christian moorings and took on a life of his own, with his first appearance in a sledge being in the American literature of the early 19th century. Now Santa Claus was ready to become the unofficial patron saint of the pre-Christmas period, the seedy saint who hangs around in shopping centre grottoes, blessing our over-indulgence as generosity and bouncing poor innocent children up and down on his knee. As well as being a corporate stooge, this Santa is a creep,” declares a 2017 article in Gulf News.

Has consumer and corporate greed stolen Christmas? Yes! Yes! Yes! Deck the halls with a mountain of toys and debt.

Ho! Ho! No! Stop the frantic and frenzy shopping race and store stampedes caused by greedy shoppers fighting for gismos and gadgets on sale. Parents place children on Santa’s knee so they can ask for toys. Why not encourage kids to take a gift to Santa for girls and boys in poverty.

What kind of Christmas gift would Santa ask God for?

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The seedy. ‘Tis the season for crime and holiday hustlers. Nativity scene vandalism, stolen Christmas gifts, purse-snatchers. “Scams are very common during the holidays, when unsuspecting shoppers give money to a phony charity or enter a bogus sweepstakes. Scammers will tug at your heart strings and take advantage of your giving mood. They also prey on naïve and desperate people who are easily lured by deals that seem too good to be true,” according to an article at www.criminaljusticedegreesguide.com.

The unheedy. Bah! Humbug! Grinch, Scrooge, and the holiday naysayer crowd fit into this contentious category. Grumblers that bemoan the annual holiday festivities instead of acknowledging fun with family and friends. Is there a grouchy green grinch at your gatherings?

What is the worst of times? Lonely people over the holidays due to death of a loved one, living away from relatives, or social isolation due to anxiety or depression. Individuals in the military. Individuals in prison. Individuals in hospitals.

What is the best of times? “Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ – the most important event in human history (along with the rest of Jesus’ life). Even if people fail to acknowledge its meaning, that doesn’t change its significance.” www.billygraham.org.

Memories of Christmas past with my mother and grandmothers dance in my head like visions of sugar plums from the well-loved story, The Night Before Christmas. That was the best of times. Making memories of Christmas present with my daughter puts new pictures in the photo album of time. That is the best of times.

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” ―Sigrid Undset

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Ohio. Contact her at melissamcolumnist@gmail.com.

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