For the past month, I’ve been saving my allowance so that I could buy gifts for my loved ones this Christmas. One time as I was sitting on my bed, I listed down all the people I’m planning to buy a gift for. After writing their names, I looked down and realized that it would cost a lot of money to buy all the gifts for all my friends and family. Money which I do not have.
So I shortened the list, and while doing so, I felt a pang of guilt inside. Crossing out the names one by one made my heart sad. The excitement and merry feeling I had for the coming season slowly dissipated. That’s why I stopped. Putting the list aside, I pulled the covers of my bed and started praying. I asked God. I just asked Him to give me another way to make my friends feel special and appreciated.
This semester, I enrolled for a Pop Culture class as one of the general education courses in our university. God answered my prayer through this class. When I entered the room, my classmates were already there and the professor had called a group for reporting. Their report was about Christmas bazaars and the culture it creates for the Filipinos.
True, this is the time of the year when everybody feels so excited to go out and buy gifts. Bazaars and sales are like mushrooms popping out anywhere. It produces an atmosphere full of lights and jolly songs. A circus of colorful decors and delicious treats. Malls are always jam-packed with people, domestic and international flights are booked from left to right, vacations are set, invitations are sent. Countdowns are running and greetings are flooding — all because of the anticipated season.
But my professor told us that Christmas bazaars is an ideology. One definition of ideology, according to John Storey, is that it masks some things.
The professor clarified that we are not against bazaars. The discussion only aims to thoroughly observe and denature the ideology of the culture of Christmas bazaars. The reporters pointed out that sometimes these bazaars mask poverty, uneven classes in society, commercialism, capitalism, and many other political issues.
As the class was dismissed, the idea of masking clung to my mind. I was drawn back to that moment in my bed when I made the long list of presents. The idea of gift-giving clearly consumed me, I felt like I was too preoccupied thinking of how I would make everyone around me happy. How I would make them smile. How I would make them feel remembered. How I would celebrate with them. How I.. How I.. How I..
Full of I’s. Then as what He always does, He talked to me during a moment I least expected Him to call to me. My prayer was answered.
While I was walking in the corridor, I realized that Christmas is not about gifts. What a cliché! But clichés are clichés for a reason. God made me realize that, again, this season like any other seasons, is not about me.
The best gift that I could give to my friends cannot be wrapped, it cannot be boxed, nor can it be tagged with a price. As a matter of fact, it is for free. That gift had already been given. Personalized to each person. Showered with blood. Prepared with so much love. That gift is not from me.
I was rebuked. God told me that the best gift that I could ever give to the people I love is to point them to His love. Direct them to His way, His love magnified through Christ. Christmas, literally means, more Christ. More of Him, not more gifts, not more friends, not more trips, not more food. Just more of Him.
God does not tell us to do away with all the partying, merrying, and being jubilant about the season. In fact, Christmas is indeed a celebration — that moment when hope was given to the world.
The simplicity of the birth of Christ was intended to remind us that when all the luxuries and material things are stripped away, the presence of Christ is more than enough for our hearts to celebrate. When He was placed in this world, God showed us a proof more than enough to make us feel appreciated, loved, and pursued — not only during the Christmas season but for the rest of our lives.
So once again I rediscovered the essence of Christmas, leaving me with a single note on my notepad, a way in which my friends and family would feel so appreciated, loved, and pursued and that is for my life to show… More Christ.