Pastor’s Corner – December 16, 2018

A few years ago I came across an article written by novelist Jennifer Coburn titled “Christmas Shopping As Substance Abuse.”  She argued that the way many approach Christmas is too gluttonous, which can make this beloved holiday every bit as dangerous as other forms of substance abuse, particularly for children.

She claimed that the average American spends more than $1000 on the holidays, and that the typical first grader acquires 70 new toys a year.  70!  A year!!  She quoted from Born to Buy, a comprehensive analysis of consumerism in children, that the more children buy into commercial culture the more likely they are to suffer from depression, anxiety, head & stomach aches and boredom.  It also found thatadolescents with more materialistic values are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as smoking, drinking, and drug use; and are more likely to suffer personality disorders like narcissism, separation anxiety, paranoia, and attention-deficit disorder (ADD).

Furthermore, Ms. Coburn argues that lavishing material things on the young denies them more valuable experiences provided by family time together; that an overabundance of gifts offers a short-term payoff but comes with long-term consequences which Mary Bellis Waller, author of Crack-Affected Children,compares to cocaine addiction.  The temporary high of all the “stuff,” she contends, stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain but ultimately leaves us unsatisfied.  Ms. Coburn goes on to say that overindulged children tend to have the worst relationships with their parents and families.

This is serious food for thought.  No one is saying that giving gifts is a bad thing to do.  In fact, giving gifts is often more rewarding than receiving them because of the satisfaction we feel when we bring joy into someone else’s life.  So a few thoughtful gifts can truly bring joy to both the giver and receiver.  But gift-giving should not overwhelm the greater meaning of what it is we are celebrating:  the Birth of Christ, the dawn of salvation, the revelation of God to humanity, and the ultimate conquest of sin and death.



In His Love,

Fr. Mike

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