The Christmas Spirit Is Still Here
Things have not really changed.
When I was a kid, back in the Great Depression, Christmas was commercialized as it is today. Most of us kids didn’t get much for Christmas, usually one present if our parents could afford it, or if a kind neighbor from the church left it on our front porch.
There were a few kids that got tons of presents. One of my friend’s father was a paper hanger, a very good one, who’s name was “Heber,” one that the rich people could afford. I don’t think he was out of work one day in his life.
We used to hang our own wallpaper. Dad taught me how to do it and after that it was my job. It was always a very funny event and my work did not compare with Heber’s work in any way. I can still see myself hung up in paper and paste.
I don’t know how good Adolph Hitler was as a paper hanger, I just wish that he had stuck with it and stayed out of politics.
Later, when my folks were on their own, the kids all raised, Heber came in and scraped off all wallpaper in my folk’s home and did the job right. In fact, it looked fantastic.
I never saw Heber without a cigar in his mouth. He was a jolly man. Why wouldn’t he be? He had a job.
Heber’s wife could always buy his kids ton of presents and she certainly did.
Down Town Salt Lake
Yes, the stores downtown in Salt Lake City were loaded for Christmas. We used to wander from store to store to see what we couldn’t have.
We also took up to tugging at Santa Claus beards to see if it was really Santa Claus or a helper or just some guy who was trying to make a buck.
Sometimes we had to run out of the store.
The effective commercialization of Christmas is most evident on television and the Internet. Take Walmart for example. They blessed us with commercials from morning till night telling us how Walmart was going to make Christmas much more meaningful to us.
Well it certainly was meaningful to Walmart, not so much to their employees, because it filled their coffers with our hard-earned dollars, much of which was debt that some of us took on and will be paying for until next Christmas.
That seems to be the cycle nowadays, overspending at Christmas time.
But Walmart was not the only company in their slugging away. All of the major department stores were in there with their Christmas sales and their television ads. The online stores were doing a booming business.
I think I got several promotional offers from Amazon every day, partly because I’m a customer on Amazon, being too lazy to get out of my chair, and I also promote Amazon products on some of my websites. I don’t learn anything doing it, maybe enough to buy a good book, but that is it.
Friend of mine bought a new Volvo from his Amazon commissions. He knows what he is doing.
Two ladies from a certain church knock on my door every month. We are good friends. I asked them what they are doing for Christmas. They said that they didn’t celebrate Christmas.
That is true of a number of churches. The Jews do not officially celebrate Christmas, they have Hanukkah with the kids get presents for days on end. But some celebrate Christmas to just for the kids.
Back When We Were Not Around
In the early days of Christianity, the Church turned pagan holidays into Christian holidays. They decided that the winter solstice celebration should be the very day that they would celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
The Scriptures say that the shepherds were in the fields when Jesus Christ was born. Jesus was born in this spring or summer or fall. My church has decided that he was born on April 6.
I guess if we had existed back in those days, we would have placed the day for celebration of Jesus’s birth on the pagan holiday that we now celebrate as Easter, the time of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Charities’ Spirit of Christmas
Christmas time is the time when I get hundreds of letters from charities asking for donations for this good cause or that bad one. Some charities pay pay much of their money to the executives. Little gets to the folks that made it. Over the years, I have read about charities sponsored by police organizations, American Indian organizations and veterans organizations as being those ripping off the public. I suggest that you check out your charities on the Internet. Place “charity scams” and the name of your charity in the address bar of your browser. See what comes up! Some charities are in the courts.
Honest Charities are Very Important in Our Society
I still give to about a dozen charities. With care for my wife amounting to tens of thousands of dollars quarterly, I had to cut back.
I hated to do so, but that is just a fact of life. I am 83 years old, have not worked for 20 years, and I’m living on money I stashed away, a couple of retirement checks and Social Security.
Maybe I could do more, but I got a second heart valve replacement this summer and the doctor say I might live a few more years. So I have to watch my money.
The envelopes that I receive asking for money usually tell me how important I am and they include a small gift. The Indian charities might send me a dream catcher. They usually end in the waste basket. How many dream catchers and you hang on your walls?
Sometimes I get a little Indian blanket. I guess I could put it over one of my wife’s dolls. But I always get labels for mailing from every charity on the globe. I don’t need always labels. I can’t give them away because I have my name on them so I guess you know what happens to them.
Some organizations put a coin in the envelope out where I can see it. Surely I will open that envelope! Well, to tell you the truth, I just dig the coin out with my finger and toss it in my coin bowl so my grandkids can dig in their when they need a coin. My wife’s caregiver is also allowed to dig in their whenever she needs a coin or two.
Other Way of Giving
My gifts to charity are down so it would be good if I could give some time to charity.
I use to do that. When we lived in Arizona, my friend Mark and I worked on four homes for Habitat for Humanity. That was great sport. We went every day and we loved it, swinging a hammer, still swinging with bloody fingers and all that.
We helped build an archaeology museum for the historical society and we often worked in the original museum. It was great fun.
But now I can hardly lift a hammer, say nothing about swinging the thing. I surely could could not push concrete down the chute which was one of my favorite things to do.
Donating in Kind
You can donate it kind. I gave a couple of truckloads of stuff to Deseret Industries and we took some stuff down there too.
We have a food bank here in my cow town and they accept groceries if I take them over there or leave them on the front step for the Boy Scouts or our mailman.
Thoughts on Giving
Here are some thoughts on giving (thanks to brainyquote.com):
Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity.
We are constituted so that simple acts of kindness, such as giving to charity or expressing gratitude, have a positive effect on our long-term moods. The key to the happy life, it seems, is the good life: a life with sustained relationships, challenging work, and connections to community.
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.
A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.
With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.
Kids can learn a lot about necessities and wants by recognizing what people live without. A common routine, but one that should not be overlooked, is having a family donation to a charity for those less fortunate. Ask your kids to search for items, toys, or clothes that they no longer use and contribute those items a collection box.
Alexa Von Tobel
Be a Benevolent Being
Well, Christmas is over, the house has been cleaned of gift wrappings (maybe), and we are ready to start a new year. Think about charity all year. The needs are great. Contribute when and how you can.
Remember that Africans are Suffering from Ebola
If you can, CONTRIBUTE TO EBOLA!
Giving is an act of love to your fellowman. If you give you will also receive.
Happy New Year!
John and Pat Jones, Buhl, ID
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