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This is the first time in years I’ve received Christmas gifts. I’m not sure I like it. In fact, I’m pretty sure right now that I don’t like it much at all. It seems so artificial. If I need something, why don’t I just get it when I need it? And if I don’t need it, why would anyone buy it for me?
My family finds it hard to buy me anything. They think I have obvious needs, but then I disagree. I don’t need X, Y and Z; I have enough of everything. When they insisted that they must buy me something, I was stymied to name anything I might want. I decided on socks. I needed socks. And potholders. I obviously was planning to buy a discount card at the fabric store in our town. So these are the things I got. I am pleased, since I won’t have to go buy these things for myself right away. But then I feel a bit guilty that I have such a utilitarian view of Christmas gifts.
But here’s a major difference between being Plain and worldly. The socks are fashion socks. The potholders are practical, but I would have bought twice as many. I look forward to using the discount card, since the last time I had one (about three years ago) I saved approximately $100 in a year. But since I have been recycling fabric and clothing for a while, what will I buy?
I am more monastic than I realized. There is no piece of jewelry, wall ornament or new dress that would entice me. I have clothes. Some of them need mending, God knows! but I am decently and cleanly clad every moment of my life. I have a pair of boots, a pair of house clogs, and a pair of sandals, as well as a pair of rubber barn boots, so I am well-shod. I have a black wool coat, a black wool cape, a denim jacket, a black shawl, a winter wool bonnet and a cotton summer bonnet. I have a pair of winter gloves. There is nothing I need.
There is more food in the refrigerator than we can eat in three days. There is a security to our housing and heat, a continuity in this place which we have not experienced in a long time, and it may be illusory, but no more than anyone else’s living arrangements. What more do we need?
We received a figurine of Christ carrying the cross. It seems appropriate for us at this time of the year, for we know that the Nativity is a foreshadowing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. But, for us, it seems – extravagant. Our niece was certainly thoughtful, and it is lovely and and meaningful – but where do we put it? It may require a shelf all its own.
I would own less rather than more. I have no wish to acquire goods. The most meaningful light display we saw on Christmas eve was the Constellation of Orion, above the horizon in a briefly clear sky, as we returned from Midnight Mass. The beauty of that seasonal display put all the electric, artificial lights to shame, made as it was by the Creator’s hand, and set in place by Him.
I suppose, in this busy modern world, I long for simplicity , for simple purpose, for a day of keeping the hours of prayer and work in serenity. I long for a home in which nothing exists but for utility. I long for the time to gaze upon the seasons as they happen, not as they are imposed by advertisers and merchants.
Is this a blessing? I believe it is, but it an awkward one, and greatly misunderstood. Shall I say that I am glad that Christmas as it is usually kept has passed? I will now endeavour to get life back on track, back on the path of prayer and contemplation, and purposeful work.
In all we strive to serve the Lord, and not ourselves; may the Lord so bless us!