So often in our culture, it seems like we barely pass one holiday when the stores are already packing in the merchandise for the next. Never is this more clearly seen than Christmas. Does it seem to you like the giant Christmas tree in the mall and the Santa paraphernalia arrive earlier and earlier?
In October I was in three different cities in Mexico and was astonished to see that the same situation holds true in Mexico. Of course, I started my usual grumbling over how commercialized the holiday of Christmas has become. Certainly our society has completely lost sight of what Christmas is all about and the message of the baby in the manger.
But suddenly, I began seeing evidence to the contrary.
Exhibit A: One of my corporate clients, with whom I have done a women’s leadership conference for the past three years, indicated that all conferences need to be complete by December 15 since after that time everyone’s attention moves toward taking family time and holiday planning.
Exhibit B: In a conversation with an organization for which I serve as a board member, experience has shown that all board meetings need to be scheduled within the first few days of December since after that everyone is focused on family stuff.
Exhibit C: In a conversation with my publisher in which I was desperately hoping for an extension of a writing deadline, I was told, “No can do” because that would also push other work on the book into December. By that time, the typesetters, printing departments, and factories are shutting down and getting ready for Christmas.
Within a very short period of time, I had three conversations which made me realize that the spirit of Christmas is alive and well. Though outwardly the signs of over-commercialization are everywhere around us, people have not lost the wonder of Christmas. And though Christmas may not mean as much to everyone as I would hope, it is also clear that people, as a whole, do prioritize family.
Instead of doing one more women’s conference, having one more board meeting, or publishing one more book, the focus becomes spending time with the kids, grandkids, and other family members.
The reluctance to do anything “business-like” from the middle of December on encourages me that commercialism, while rampant, has not completely taken over Christmas. So next time you get frustrated with the commercialism, look for evidence that the message of the baby in the manger is still what Christmas is all about and is still in the hearts of the people around you.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2013.