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What meaning does Christmas have for you?

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On the eve of this holiday season, I would like to share my thoughts on the meaning of Christmas, for you to ponder over.

Thus, for not so long ago, this holiday mainly reflected a religious nature, at least in regard to people of the Christian faith. And since a certain level of humanism and a feeling of belonging to a community were implicitly associated with it, love for others; kindness and the sense of sharing were present in its every aspect. Rich or poor, what prevailed was the well-being of others, but especially the feeling of belonging to a community, the sense of unity.

Then came the era of commercialization where the individual became the centre of everything to the detriment of the community, where individualism, money and the material prevailed over sharing and taking care of each other. Therefore, money made it that we pulled away little by little from the primary sense of this celebration of love and sharing. And so, what is tragic with the materialistic aspect of Christmas, in these so-called modern times when we allowed ourselves to commercialize it, lies in the fact that it has almost lost all of its noble meaning. Much like in everything else, when we allow the materialist side, especially money to take on all the importance, we distort and depersonalize everything.

When we purchase a gift, do we always do it to truly please the person receiving it? Or do we do it occasionally to make a good impression, to feel less guilty or simply not to arrive empty-handed? In some cases, buying a gift has even become a chore, one that we need to get rid of as soon as possible. And yet, whatever the monetary value of the gift that one offers, it is not the gift in itself that makes one happy, but rather the symbolism of the gesture, when the intention is real and heartfelt.

It takes me back to a saying from my moral teachings class high school teacher referring to a child expecting a gift: “Christmas is the pleasure of expectation and the tragedy of a gift.” Therefore, it is not to receive a material gift, properly speaking, that brings pleasure, but rather the emotional element which surrounds all the expectation. Once unwrapped, the magic of Christmas no longer reigns. This explains why children often end up playing a lot more with the big box in which the gift came than the gift itself. Christmas magic is thus carried out predominantly through the thrill that expectation and hope bring rather than the gift itself. Now, considering that it’s not the gift that counts, but rather the exaltation we all feel in this festive period, rejoice in the idea of spending quality time with your loved ones, perhaps going as far as forgetting the gifts.

I leave you with a quote from a series of articles on happiness that I plan to publish in the new year: “Therefore, happiness is merely a state of mind which is found within us. It is not accessible through ephemeral external pleasures.”  Thus, such as the pleasure of expectation in the child, happiness is purely an emotion which we are all entitled to experience, notwithstanding one’s financial means. Aren’t our genuine relationships precious enough? So why not offer the gift of self, of our time, by being present for the ones we hold dear?

To conclude, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, filled with memorable moments.

Join the discussion

  • Thank you Jacques for yet another thought provoking article. Your reflective nature encourages us to take a moment and really think instead of simply go through the motions of life. I completely agree with your statement of buying gifts not necessarily for the right reasons. The holidays were not designed to create guilt yet we get so easily caught up in what it this day “should” be rather than simply living for the moment.

    • Nathalie, as you and I agree on, rapports and relationships is what truly matters, yet the artificiallity of how we handle holidays such as Christmas make us forget about that. Appearances and perceptions trump our true nature of wanting to love and to be loved. We’re more focused on buying love then we are on earning love. It’s always a pleasure to read your thoughtful and insightful comments. Warmlier

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