Most people look forward to Christmas with different expectations colored by spending anxiety. Their level of happiness rises and falls with the depth of their pockets. Or what they can grab, get, receive and pack into their imaginary and real Christmas stockings. It’s a good Christmas if the hunger for more is fed. It’s a dry Christmas if the budget can’t get more than desired.
Materialism at Christmas time gnaws at the emptiness of how superficial we have thought and lived Christmas from a culture of kris kringle where you must give something and the culture of exchange gifts where you must receive something. So it’s fair. If not, it’s war.
J.C.Penney, owner of the famous clothing store wrote: “Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merry making.” He adds: “It is more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving.”
In the Philippines, most people set aside a big chunk of their bonuses and salary to the numerous mall sales in the cities. Most of their purchases consist of consumables which they don’t really need but they buy them anyway just because these are on sale. Impulse buying of goods also leads many to neglect budgeting their money to investments like real estate that could sustain their earnings even after Christmas. While the rich could very well afford to splurge because they have invested their money well, middle class Filipinos seem to follow this tact but without any earning investments. So they just splurge, sometimes even beyond their means, and without any other recurring source of income.
These are a few of the reasons why most middle income earning Filipinos go broke after Christmas. But Christmas need not be a materialistic event just because the neighbors are merry making. Christmas can be made personal and meaningful without breaking the bank. To celebrate Christmas this way, one may encourage someone, clean for a friend, babysit for a neighbor, send an encouraging private message through facebook, tweet your friends, help a child and renew your relationship with God. The possibilities are endless and most of it are free.
Since no Christmas party could ever satisfy the longings of the human heart at Christmas time, the focus on material gain might as well be shifted to what is eternal, that Christmas is found on nothing else except in Jesus Christ, as the classic Christmas hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem says: “Yet in thy dark streets shineth/ The everlasting Light/ The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” ***Harriet Dale Sagorsor/JD