Monday, December 8, 2008


Chances are you'll come across a piece on the wanton materialism that abounds during the liturgical season of Advent. And it's deserved because people get into a bluster (in the wrong ways/no repentance) about Christmas too early and then, dupes they are, chuck it too early, on Boxing Day, just when it's got started.

If there is anyone willing to give ear to the lambasting of the obsession with gift-giving (and receiving) to the detriment of receiving Jesus the Christ Child into one's heart, it is me. But I get antsy when I hear something like this in the midst of the otherwise good awakening: "...and people spend money they do not have [I agree, tis true] on things that people don't even need..."

It's that last part: "...on things that people don't even need". Then my glitchy puritan-radar kicks in. What are gifts that we give to other people (material ones) but things that, when said and done, are things we don't really 'need'?

Among others, or perhaps others spurred by him, C.S. Lewis makes the "...on things that people don't even need" statement in one of his essays. He is wrong - insofar as the word gift is used in a mistaken way in order to heighten the deflating purpose of his otherwise true overall conclusion. As if gifts are supposed to entail necessity. The argument is hogwash. It is also, as said, puritanical as hell. Gifts are supposed to be things we don't really need. It does not require an explanation as to why.

And by the way, the Christ Child did not need the gold or the frank-incense or the myrrh. I wish otherwise intelligent people worth listening to would take that one little bit and give it the funeral it deserves.


Tim J. said...

"When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them."

G.K. Chesterton

Bryan <>< said...

Hi Paul,

Great entry.
Concerning your last comment, however, the gifts of the Magi proved to be quite practical. In God's providence, the gifts supported Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their flight to and stay in Egypt.

Bryan <><

Paul Stilwell said...

Tim, thanks for the G.K.C. quote. If I might ask, can you recall which essay/article/book it's from?

Bryan, good point. Sort of like Sam Gamgee getting his Elven rope. Hehe.