Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bar-throated Apalis

Bar-throated Apalis by andiwolfe
Bar-throated Apalis, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

DeHoop Nature Reserve. Christmas in the southern hemisphere means summer time. Instead of snow, ice, and short days, my friends in South Africa have beautiful weather, many interesting birds to see, and beautiful flowers. I'm not sure which I'd prefer. I'm used to Christmas in the northern hemisphere....

As I reflect on what Christmas means to me, I admit to myself that I don't like what it's become in the USA. The commercial season starts in October. By the time Christmas arrives, I'm sick of all the corporate displays of "buy now, get a 50% discount on this-or-that, free shipping", etc. There has been so much media coverage on the alleged 'war on Christmas' that I think people have lost sight that the real war on Christmas is our emphasis on catering to corporate profits, and a loss of the spirit of helping those in need. When corporations such as Walmart and McDonalds have to coach their employees on how to manage their budgets in order to buy food and gifts, there's a message we're missing in this country. Income inequality and the lack of a living wages for the working poor are issues we really need to address. If we're going to return to the class system of the 1920's, then why can't we return to the way Christmas was celebrated in the last century - sans commercialism.

Christmas should be about celebrating a spirit of giving and kindness to others, a celebration of family and friends, and, for people who are still engaged in organized religion (i.e., Christianity), a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. It's not about making corporations' profit margins as wide as possible...

Don't get me wrong here, I enjoy shopping for gifts to give to loved ones. However, I do resent being bombarded with advertisements for 2+ months, and with piped-in Christmas music from Halloween to New Years. I'd like to return to my childhood years when the Christmas season started after Thanksgiving. The anticipation for those short weeks made Christmas a very special holiday, rather than an extended buying season.

OK, rant off for now. I hope all my readers enjoy the holidays, whatever the season means to you, and that you find peace and joy in the new year.

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