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Oct 22, 2014

Gifts - The other name for Christmas!

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By Alfie D'Souza, Illinois [ Published Date: December 22, 2010 ]

Before I moved to US in 1990, Christmas celebrations in my hometown Mangalore, was very meaningful and very traditional -- like visiting homes singing Christmas carols, going to the Christmas eve midnight mass attired in new clothing, and after the Church ceremony partying and dancing at the clubs or hotels, and even on streets or beaches under the moonlit skies. On Christmas Day we all gather with family members, relatives and friends, pray for God's blessings before we consume the sumptuous Christmas meal, and exchange plum cakes and homemade delicacies called ' Kuswar '. Christmas has been a joyous and traditional celebration for all Mangalorean Christians that way for all these years. No lavishly spending on gifts, because exchanging of gifts wasn't the part of this joyous feast.

Living in the United States for the last twenty years, I have noticed that Christmas has lost its true meaning of celebration. While only a few Americans still celebrate it very spiritually and traditionally, others consider Christmas season as ' happy holidays '. What the heck is happy holidays? Are we celebrating holidays or are we celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? What is happening? The traditional Christmas has become so commercialized, that Christmas these days is nothing but a day of gifts, gifts and more gifts! Christmas has become a time of heightened frustration as people overspend on lavish gifts and suffer bouts of consumerist rage in the malls, in the supermarkets and on the roadways. Oh well!

Yes friends, Christmas is just around the corner. Everybody is getting excited about what gifts they will be receiving. We all get hyped up about the new gadgets, the new toys etc, the latest in-thing to own or the elation of getting the objects of our desires. What I observed interestingly is that some get disappointed when they receive what they do not like/want -- and next day or few days later you will see these folks at the returns/exchange counters at the stores. While some go into a state of comparison with the value of the gifts they received, and some simply get dejected because they didn't receive a single gift.

Out of many lips proclaim these noble words "Christmas is all about giving". Let's look at this statement together. While I totally endorse the truth about this statement, for a moment -- I find myself also a victim of the selfish human nature, wondering why certain people have forgotten me during Xmas. It took me a while but I'm glad I finally understood. I learned some important values which I like to share with you all -

Christmas is about giving, and it is more blessed to give than to receive -- We can't and should not force or emotionally blackmail anyone to give us gifts. A gift comes from the heart and the Giver should gotta be willing to give. And it is the pleasure and privilege of the receiver to receive. The joy of being able to bless someone whom you love/appreciate, to make them smile is priceless. I don't need a present in return to have my heart bursting with joy to see my loved one receive my gift with glee and gladness. The unspeakable joy that I receive cannot be contained in a cardboard box wrapped up with ribbons.

You reap what you sow -- Some of us including myself wonder why people don't give us Xmas gifts. The question I learned to ask is-- why should they? How have I made a difference in their lives this past year? Have I been a true friend? Have I been a blessing to them? What did I do for them? Have I been self-centered? Have I been involved in their lives -- in support and encouragement? Time for a reality check....

You don't just give during Xmas. You give all year long -- How true. Sometimes I get perplexed when I see folks get lovey and mushy during Xmas when all year long they are cold and distant. It's the same effect of that of sobbing children who wail dramatically at their parent's funeral but did nothing for their parent's when he/she is still alive. Love is a lifestyle, not an event. And giving is an act of love.

The value and amount of gifts you receive has nothing to do with how good a person you are -- One should never weigh the monetary value of gifts, and more so not let that affect your self-worth. Are we so little and worthless, that we compare our significance to gifts? Never should we do that. Gifts are subjected to the abilities and conviction of the Giver. There are too many variables. Simply just learn to be content that someone remembered you. They don't have to give you anything, you know. Learn to appreciate that they remembered you, and be content. We should give, but without expectations. The Giver with expectation of receiving in return is the worst giver of all. Period.

Gifts don't always cost money -- Giving gifts does not always mean monetary gifts. It could be a gift of your time, your service to help, your ear to listen, your friendship, your care and concern for those who surround you... and not just about those people you are concerned or enjoy being with, but also those who are always there for you eg. family.

Let us continue to grasp love and all its expression. Remember, Christmas is not just the season for giving gifts -- after all New Year will be here soon, followed closed on its heels the Valentines Day... Mothers Day....Fathers Day....Sweetest Day ..and all other kind of 'Days' !! So there is plenty of room for practice.

Let's forget about gifts . Instead let us all joyfully and unambiguously recognize and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, and say it loud and clear to everyone -- " Merry Christmas ", and not " happy holidays". " Merry Christmas" -- they are beautiful words. Afterall Christmas is Christ's birthday, not a holiday. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas to you all

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A.S.Mathew, USA :
Mr. Naresh Hegde: I pray that God may raise people of your spirit, attitude of friendship and harmony in all religions, and we all could have lived in greater peace and happiness. Keep up the good work.
We love you.
matilda, India :
My dearest Alfred Dattu

Congratulation! Nice, meaningful, and interesting Christmas article. I hope all read this article and celebrate Christs birth more meaningfully with religiosity. I wish you all the best. May your article touch the hearts of the people
Willian Pais, USA :
Happy Holidays is the by produce of a legal interpretation of secularism as No religion.
It makes the US appear as a joke.

While secularism in India is seen as all religions as the same, in the US and in the west the courts have mandated it as no religion.

It is interesting that the US opposed communism so much, yet they have somehow imbibed their interpretation of secularism.

One must imagine what business does the Govt have in Christmas or any other festival for that matter.
Roland Correya, UAE:
come on Alfie you forgot to mention the best of it all, a mad search for a pretty looking lass to accompany you for the christmas ball... it didnt matter whether you were still at college or working, or flat broke the whole year through, you had to have a pretty looking lass just for that one day... and then the mangalorean grapevine would take it from there... anyways cheers and happy christmas to you. By the way are you the same Alfie who held a show or two in Mlore...before you took off to the us.
Drona, India :
And I don't look forward for any gifts???? Ha..ha -Alfie

I think gifts are fine for birth days, anniversaries. Having said that, people spend lots of their hard earned money during major festivals. Santa Claus makes the store owners happy for sure. I wonder if he is Chinese by the way. I remember looking at a shirt in Nordstorm show room on magnificent mile few years ago. The shirt was priced at $335/ and it was one of the more affordable shirts in that shop. Needless to say that I did not buy that even though I liked it very much. It is amazing how businesses manage to get their clients before and even after Christmas. The after Christmas sale has its own clients.
MERRY CHRISTMAS Alfie, Nothing less. [Nothing more for now:)]
Naresh Hegde, Surathkal, DK, India :
Wow! Great article which really speaks what Christmas is all about. Although I am a non-Christian, but I have hang around Christian friends all my life. I love the Christmas tradition, the fun, the extravaganza and the true spirit as to what Christmas is all about. If someone doesn't want to say "Merry Christmas"--heck with them! Nobody can ever stop people to say" Happy Diwali"--so why get scared to say "Merry Christmas ". I love my Christian friends and I simply love Christmas. Long live Merry Christmas! "What the heck is happy holidays"--as mentioned by alfy dsouza. Christians should still say "Merry Xmas", like we Hindus still recognize "Happy Deepavali". Dsouza I support your point.
Susan smith, Oak Park, Il, USA :
Yet another great article by Alfie D'Souza which really brings awareness that people should treat Christmas as a traditional feast and not as a meaningless holiday. Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ -- and that sounds perfect to call "Merry Christmas". Happy holidays to replace Merry Christmas--C'mon give me a break all you secularists!! I am sticking on to Merry Christmas, just like the author. Good piece of article, Mr. D'Souza. Keep writing, because your articles are worth reading and very convincing. Good job!
Alfie D'Souza, Chicago Suburbs, Il, USA :
Hi Drona--you really got the right one baby...Uuh..Uuhh. Thanks for your compliments pertaining to my article--I will surely love to meet you in the Windy City and share my news and views--www.watzallaboutalfi@yahoo.com is my contact. Merry Christmas--Nothing Less. Nothing More. And I don't look forward for any gifts???? Ha..ha
Drona, India :
Sometimes I get perplexed when I see folks get lovey and mushy during Xmas when all year long they are cold and distant.-Alfie

Fantastic dialogue Alfie. Congratulations to you. I would like to meet you in Chicago next time around.
Joyce Alvares, Qatar:
Merry Christmas to all the readers of Mangalorean.com

Jesus is the reason for the season........... so have a wonderful christmas friends.

Just thought I would share something beautiful that I received by mail:

Christmas gift suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
A.S.Mathew, USA :
Mr D'Souza, good article touching many spiritual lessons of life.

I was also greatly surprised to notice
the exchange of gifts, and the colorful
and highly commerecilized Christmas celebrations while laded here 40 years back. Indeed, Christ is an alien
guest in the U.S.Christmas. However, Christmas is the most celebrated relgious festival in the world, creating a very jovial time for the Christians as well as the non-Christians. The message that the
angels have declared to the whole world
"Peace on earth" is really repeated every year around the world.

Jesus is the reason of the season, but
many stores and business establishments are simply making use of the season to make money, but some of them are afraid to display any Christmas decoration, simply not to offend the minority religious relievers.

Since the financial meltdown was started, the Christmas has also became very luckwarm.

The U.S. began to turn away from God in her rebellious attitude against God by taking God's instructions away from many institutions, and it seems like God is taking away His blessings from
the U.S.A.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.
Satish Menon, UAE:
Well written!
Merry Christmas to all the readers!
I am on my "happy holidays" which includes so many celebrations but main attraction is the Christmas day! My house is decorated with all the lightings, Christmas tree etc etc. Every time it was in Mangalore but this time home sweet-less home away from home. We are trying to make it very traditional just for the small one to learn!!
Just one request to Alfie Dsouza! Please never use the word "Xmas" It is Christmas.
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