The True Cost of Christmas

It occurred to me earlier today how fitting the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is for the Annual Festival of Giving & Getting.

The song, far from celebrating Christ in any way, shape, or form (don’t let the “Christmas” in the title fool you), celebrates only the gifts given to a person by their “true love.”

These gifts are indeed impressive; by the twelfth day, the subject of the song has received

  • 12 partridges in pear trees,
  • 22 turtle doves,
  • 30 French hens,
  • 36 calling birds,
  • 40 golden rings,
  • 42 geese a-laying,
  • 42 swans a-swimming,
  • 40 maids a-milking,
  • 36 ladies dancing,
  • 30 lords a-leaping,
  • 22 pipers piping, and
  • 12 drummers drumming.

That’s 364 items being gifted to one person, a gift-giving bonanza that millions annually celebrate as what I can only presume to be a good thing via “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

It isn’t the number of items which amazes me, though, nor is it the grandiose nature of the items — how does one give a dancing lady as a gift? Is this slavery we’re singing about here? — rather, it is the cost which most catches my attention.

Based on the Christmas Price Index, the True Price of Christmas is $86,609.

Anyone else see a problem with that?

I realize most of us aren’t waking up to nigh unto $90,000 in gifts on December 25th, but we still sing the song. We celebrate the exhorbitant gift-giving of an idealized “true love.”

And we do this naïvely in the name of Christmas, a word which properly refers to the mass, or celebration, of Christ.

What we call Christmas very much isn’t. We celebrate Christ when we care for His brethren by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and showing compassion to the sick and imprisoned. We celebrate Christ when we worship the Father in spirit and in truth. We celebrate Christ when we make much of Him while dying daily to ourselves. We celebrate Christ when we do the right thing, even when the current is pulling us in another direction.

We do not celebrate Christ when we take His name and apply it to an annual festival that has more to do with Walmart than it does with Him. During this “holiday” season, I see evidence everyday that Jesus Christ most certainly is not the “Reason for the season.”

Seriously, don’t believe the hype.

What I see is people complaining about prices, shopping for gifts for family members they barely know, looking for that one thing from that one show that their kid loves so much (yet the parent has no clue about), and so much more.

Nothing Christian is the motivation for this behavior. At this point in our culture, it’s almost obligatory. To even suggest that the “Christmas holiday” is a farce is to risk being ostracized.

As I sit under the glow of our Tannenbaum, I admit that I’m all wrapped up in the traditions of our culture. I fully recognize within myself the hope that my loved ones will get me just what I want for Christmas.

And I’m not really sure how to unwrap myself, for that matter, and so I covet your prayers in overcoming the cultural flow within which I’ve been pulled undertow.

I work for Walmart, yet recognize materialism as an evil, and I hate it. In the interest of full disclosure, you can be certain that my views are not shared by Walmart and are my own.

Although, perhaps ironically, I’ve not heard “The Twelve Toys of Christmas” played on Walmart radio this season. I’d expect the most materialistic “Christmas” song to get some airtime in America’s shrines to consumerism. I’m glad that my own expectations can still let me down every now and again.

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