I have to admit that my Christmas spirit is somewhat sparse. Over the years I’ve been jaded by the commercialism of the holiday. The bombardment of advertisements seems to arrive earlier every year (Christmas commercials in October): “buy her a diamond to show your love”; “spend lots of money to show them you care.” The implied corollary would seem to be that if one doesn’t spend thousands of dollars on Christmas presents, s/he doesn’t really care for his/her loved ones. Our capitalist stock-markets eagerly anticipate, and react to, the after-season announcements of retail sales achievements. Sometimes it seems like the raison d’être of Christmas is merely production and consumption to increase faceless corporate profit-margins. Not being a religious person, I also draw no inspiration from the Christian locus of the event. But I do remember how important Christmas was to me as a child.
Luckily my wife works hard at making our family’s Christmas an event that our children will remember with joy. This year I am especially grateful to her, as I have been too busy for anything but preparations for law-school exams. Our house, which we only moved into two weeks ago, is already decorated with interior lights and statuettes; and the tree is trimmed and twinkling in the living room. The kids are getting more excited by the day and I have to admit that I am as well. I find the exuberance that our children show in opening their presents on Christmas morning to be contagious and for an hour or so I reconnect with my childhood experiences.
For me the holiday’s only real importance has always been the proximity of family and friends. This year seems to be especially meaningful in that regard since our family-unit has been transplanted to a new city in a new province away from all familiarity, extended-family, and friends. The importance to me of my wife and children has been accentuated and intensified by our life-altering experience and I am very much looking forward to the end of my exams and some overdue quality time spent with them. The weekly lunch-visits with my father that I took for granted back in British Columbia are sorely missed and I await his Christmas-visit arrival with great anticipation. I also miss the frequent conversations with Dave Veniot over lattes or caramel macchiatos at the local coffee-house in Prince George”?they were even more important to me than I knew at the time.
It is insights like these that have made me realize that Christmas really is an important time to me. However, if I could reshape the holiday to my personal specifications there would only be tangible gifts given to children; preferably created with love by the donor his or herself. And the gifts between adult family and friends would be restricted to those incorporeal feelings of love that are vastly superior in worth than are the diamonds or toys incessantly promoted by corporations through our ever-present mass media. I wish you all a Christmas as merry and meaningful as the one that I intend to experience with my family this year. Merry Christmas.
Wayne E. Benedict has a varied career history and strong links to the Canadian labour movement. He is working part-time toward his Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations at AU, and is a fulltime first-year student of the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. For a more detailed writer bio, see The Voice writers’ feature page. Wayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org