Tuesday, December 12, 2023
#346 / What Do You Want For Christmas?
The Christmas Tree pictured comes from a 2015 news story documenting how that specific picture stimulated a host of commenters to denounce Emma Tapping, the mother who bought all those pictured gifts for her three children. Yes, there IS a tree under there, somewhere; you can just see the tip of it near the top of the photo.
My blog posting today, looking ahead to the Christmas upcoming, was not, actually, prompted by the news story I am referencing above. I found the story as I searched the internet for a suitable image to accompany my comment today. My comment, in fact, references not the gift-giving excesses of Emma Tapping but a thoughtful article by Elizabeth Kolbert, published in the October 30, 2023, edition of The New Yorker.
Kolbert's article does not, specifically, mention Christmas. It is titled, "Needful Things," and I invite you to click the link, to see if the potential paywall maintained by the magazine will let any nonsubscribers read what Kolbert has to say.
In the online version of the article, which is where the link will take you, the title is more directly descriptive of Kolbert's point, which is perhaps not completely clear from that "Needful Things" title. Online, Kolbert's title advises potential readers of her article's subject as follows: "The Real Cost of Plundering the Planet’s Resources." Her subtitle spells out her subject even more clearly: "Our accelerating rates of extraction come with immense ecological and social consequences."
Christmas is, for many if not most people in our country, not so much a holiday celebrating the entrance of the Creator of the World into that world as a human being, as one of us. Rather, Christmas has become (at least for many people) a holiday celebrating abundance. Material things, not spiritual understandings, often seem to be the main focus of the holiday. In fact, while Kolbert doesn't tie her discussion to the Christmas holiday, it seemed appropriate for me to try to make her point by asking that question, "What do you want for Christmas?"
After you read her article, you might feel impelled to say: "What do I want? Really, no gifts, thank you; I'm good. Let's celebrate the joy and mystery of being alive; let's remember and promote love, companionship, and gratitude. Let's not continue to plunder the Earth for a display of 'gifts' under a tree. Let's try to remember what it really means to be alive, today, as human beings on a beautiful planet."
Wonder. Not plunder. That's what I'd like to propose.
Read that article, if you can, and maybe you'll agree! What do you want for Christmas?