There is a new meaning to decking the halls. In Tokyo a jewelry store is currently displaying a solid gold Christmas tree adorned with laughing and playing Disney characters. There is nothing that says Christmas better than Donald Duck poking fun at his friend Mickey Mouse. My heart is so full of the gratitude at such a display that I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.
Our family spent the Thanksgiving Holiday at home, no travel to far away family, it would have been nice but the closest family is 1000 miles north, so we centered our efforts on cleaning the house, arranging the furniture and breaking out the decorations that would transform our home into a magical wonderland of Christmas. We thought about retrieving our own golden tree but believed it a bit presumptuous, especially when we were having trouble making ends meet due to some unexpected expenses.
We all understand the excesses of our society; we thrive on seeing the ostentatious, the gaudy and golden gods of gluttony and greed transform our hearts into maniacal shopping fanatics, forever chanting the mantra’s of unfettered capitalism. The black Friday events change us, transmute our previously friendly demeanor into a Hyde like persona, scrapping and pushing, prodding and gouging our way to the last big screen TV on display.
I’m a capitalist, but a golden Christmas tree, riotous shopping? I spent a couple of weeks in Japan a few years ago and coincidentally it was during the holiday season. My wife collects manger scenes and we have accumulated quit a few from all around the world. During my search in Japan for a manger I searched from Nagoya to Tokyo but nowhere was I able to find even a simple representation of the Christ’s Birth. There were plenty of elves; Santa was in abundance, Christmas music in English blared from every available speaker but no Christ, no Savior, no religion of any kind, only the hope of that golden Christmas tree, the material god who currently speaks in all languages and dialects, his motives very clear, as the still small voice of God is overshadowed with the cacophony of blaring self-indulgence.
You may not believe in Christ or in a God but you must admit that the gods of materialism are very much alive. The motivations toward measurable success have eclipsed the silent works of charity leaving only a shell of spirituality during a time in the near past, when most dropped the pretense of hardness and donned the values of humanity, little acts of kindness, a smile, a helping hand, a bit more patients than before.
Unruly crowds fight and trample to save a few dollars, drivers swerve and steal their way to park 10 feet closer, children cry and parents scream from stress and anger, the Christmas spirit is a forgotten value and with it the fundamental belief in the powers on high.
Christmas used to be heard in the simple tone of a bell, the subtle smells of cinnamon or pine permeating our senses, the stranger lending a hand or the simple smiles from passersby. Now we have an amplification of every day frustration, a strung out and overstimulated system waiting for its next commercial fix. Demented and frenzied shoppers vie for position never thinking of the reason for the season, the birth of Him who gave His all that we might be.
Be what? Be nice, be patient, be kind, be prudent, be selfless, be Christlike.