In reality, hard times never discriminate; they just take on a different form.
And in this holiday season, our nation is truly faced with hard times. We currently have an unemployment rate of 9.8% that exist under the umbrella of a withering economy and a political climate that is seemingly becoming more fractured and broken with each passing day.
To top it all off, Congress has allowed federal unemployment insurance to expire, and unemployment benefits are set to end for 2 million people during the month of December – just in time for Christmas.
The number of families needing food, clothing and shelter is steadily increasing, and with new jobs being created at a slower pace than drying paint, there appears to be no immediate relief in sight.
The long lines for food, clothing and shelter are real; the families that stand in the long lines are real; the urgent need to eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness in our nation is real.
The only good thing about the hard times we are currently faced with is that they do not see our age, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
Hard times do not discriminate.
Christmas is here – ”tis the season to be jolly,” but jolliness is understandably difficult for many Americans to embrace during a time when so many hard working people are suffering as a result of our economic downturn.
This lack of “jolliness” is only compounded by the fact that our politicians in Washington D.C. are ostensibly incapable of adopting a management style and strategy that will allow them to incorporate a genuine bipartisan approach to solving our common problems.
In the end…we all suffer.
If we as Americans spent more of our time and energy working together to locate and implement solutions to resolve our common struggles as human beings, and less time glorifying our “division” and seeking balance through seasonal gratification, many of the issues we are dealing with today would not exist.
Christmas (for Christians) is simply a celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ; the self-revelation of God to the world for the reconciliation of humanity to Himself.
Christmas and its celebration also embodies the anticipation of the Second Coming of the Christ – the time when He will return to restore all things to their proper order.
This is the “reason for the season” according to Christians, so why does Christmas cost so much money, take so much energy, create so much debt and cause so much suffering?
In 2008 (for example), the U.S. spent over 25 billion dollars during the Christmas holiday on decorations alone. This includes the trees, the ornaments, the lights, and Santa Claus and his sleigh of reindeers.
This does not include the Christmas light bills, the cleanup, the year-round advertisement, promotion and marketing of Santa Claus; the millions of gifts purchased in his honor, the postage on his letters, his Christmas parades or his guest appearances (which range between $8,000 and $10,000 per mall for four to five weeks of taking pictures with children and asking them what they want for Christmas).
The number for the total cost of Christmas is astronomical, and God could not have possibly intended for His celebration to be so costly to the point where it directly contributes to the detriment of the people He created.
The worst part of it all is that we are literally pumping millions upon millions of dollars into promoting and supporting a figure that we know is not “real.” It has never been documented anywhere in the recorded history of our civilization that a heavy-set bearded man from the North Pole, wearing a red suit with white fur trimming, traveled around the world in one night and delivered gifts made by his helpers (elves) to every child on the planet from a sleigh that was being pulled by a team of flying reindeer.
On the other side of this issue, as a strategy to cut cost and reduce federal spending, we take millions of dollars in insurance benefits away from “real” people who are unable to find work – causing entire families to rely on handouts and other “tax-payer supported” programs to make ends meet.
Reality vs. “make-believe,” – where is the balance?
We need to adopt a new practice in American culture that involves lifting up and investing in things that are real…and people are real. If we took a fraction of what we spend promoting Santa Claus and his non-existent agenda, and invested those same resources into real people looking for real work, their lifetime contributions to the growth of our economy would far outweigh the “once a year “seasonal contribution of the Christmas holiday.