The True Essence of Christmas

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An awe-inspiring tango of colours and lights this time of the year can be viewed from Oxford street in London to Times square in New York, from Yonge Street in Toronto to Hill Road in Mumbai and the scenes are very akin  – the resplendent streets shine with delight and pride, showcasing its make-up consisting of beautiful buntings, multihued illuminations and artistic decorations – window dressers displaying their best work by skillfully weaving the ingredients of the festive spirit and retailers astutely  adding value to the mystical aura of Christmas.

As a kid the occasion has been very special and ?kind of magical? to me – mum?s sweets, the carols, the christmas tree, mistletoes, santaclaus, angels, cookies, the gifts, dancing etc but as years devour me and wise-ness reigns in (as it happens with age), I question the evolvement of this abhorrent consumerism, the commercialization of Christmas. Whilst not wanting this piece to sound like another ?clich?? sermon one often hears, my query comes straight from my heart as it has been a big bother over the years.

Christmas without doubt has become big business and marketers have done a super job of positioning and marketing the festival to the layman. The ‘exchange of gifts’ (in the name of sharing) being one of the many features, gleefully embellished and cherished by retail houses and advertisers. ?Gift giving? has been very shrewdly marketed and now adorns the common man?s mind as an obligatory gesture – there is no doubt that as kids we loved receiving gifts and as adults we take the opportunity to alleviate our guilt by fulfilling the needs of our kids and our dear ones – ignorantly playing into the hands of the advertisers. On the subject, I have been first hand witness to a Canadian friend of mine caught in this predicament of ?gift giving? to his big family, the result, he was left paying off his credit card bills for the next 6 months.

As human beings, we love to shop and Christmas has been marketed as a perfect platform to fulfill that desire by commercial spin doctors seeking their profits. An ad campaign during the festival some years ago endorsed it perfectly, headlined ?I shop therefore I am? – (a take off on a Descartes quote ?I think therefore I am?) – in a snapshot summing up the current perspective of Christmas. We have opportunely commercialized the occasion bowing to the charm of corporate and retail houses who are happily raking in the millions.

""…Christmas without doubt has become big business and marketers have done a super job of positioning and marketing the festival to the layman…..""

Whilst one would argue there?s nothing wrong in making the splash and magnifying such a joyful occasion and I can agree to an extent, but it does make me query the balance between the materialistic Christmas and the spiritual one. Having lived in the west, I can categorically state that the material side of Christmas has won hands down over the spiritual side. The unfortunate part is that this is now becoming a world trend. Over the years, I have seen people (especially females) going berserk in an ?outfit buying spree? for the occasion. I have witnessed people fighting over the last toy in the department store. I have heard stories of people scrambling for space in the bitter cold on Boxing day specials. All making me wonder is this the actual meaning of the occasion.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and revolves around the nativity story (circumstances surrounding the birth). Jesus was born in a manger and the birth itself was a message to the world about sacrifice, humility, care, love and understanding. The sad truth in recent times is Jesus and his ideologies have been conveniently relegated to the backbenches, all in the name of celebrations. His teachings of love and brotherhood somehow does not resonate in today?s ?dollar and cents? world. We continue to commercialize Christmas in many cities, making it a billion dollar business.

Christmas is a time for giving, a time for sharing your rewards with those are underprivileged and unfortunate, a time for reflection at your inner self. Whilst we can enjoy and revel in the festive spirit, we should spare a thought, a prayer and maybe a donation for the unfortunate ones – the poor who don?t know where their next meal will be coming from, the seniors who have no one to talk to, the children and the people in the war zones getting ready to shelter themselves from the next bomb and many others. This in essence has always been the message of the blessed baby born in the manger. Let us not lose sight of the real meaning.

About the Author:
""Irwin Rego, a Bombay born Canadian is the grandson of yesteryears’ renowned musician and Konkani writer J.J.Rego ? Bendur, Mangalore and son of the famous Konkani and English writer J.B.Rego ? (Poinari, Times of India).  Irwin is a highly qualified communications and advertising professional, having served on the Corporate Advisory Board for Fedex-Kinkos, Canada, just recently relocated as  Director ? Client Affairs at a  reputed Strategic Communications Consultancy in  Bahrain. A man of many talents, he is also a poet, singer, actor, cook, a well known public speaker, an excellent hockey and cricket player and a regular columnist for the Gulf Daily News – Bahrain.  A die-hard Mangalorean at heart, he has one regret – his weakness in conversing in the konkani language.

Author: Irwin Rego- Bahrain

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