Bargell: Chris Rock monologue puts the ‘Jesus’ Birthday’ season in perspective
Special to the Daily
Well before Black Friday and any holiday door-busters that resulted in mass mayhem, Chris Rock delivered a Christmas monologue on Saturday Night Live that hit home. Rock laid into Christmas commercialization, asking how we, as Americans, could have turned Jesus’ birthday into the most commercialized time of the year. As far as Rock knew (and he did not claim to be an expert) Jesus was about the “least materialistic person to ever roam the earth.” But here in America we have the “Jesus Birthday” season, where the emphasis often is on how much we can buy in a single month, or two. Rock pointed out we even have economists who talk about whether this Jesus Birthday season lived up to spending expectations compared to prior Jesus Birthday seasons. I laughed at Rock’s rhetoric, agreeing with some chagrin that Christmas all too often becomes a stress bucket of where and how to buy the presents to stuff under the tree.
I then caught a news brief about a couple who canceled Christmas for their three young boys. The parents were fed up with everything the kids wanted, mostly because the kids did not seem to appreciate all they had. Not an unfamiliar lament in our household this time of year. The family interview about the decision made national news, featuring three contrite kids who seemed genuinely understanding of their parents’ decision. The boys were determined to move from the naughty to the nice list when Jesus’ birthday rolled around next year. Comments on the parents’ decision ranged from calling them visionaries to heartless Grinches, sure to scar their kids for life.
Rock’s rant rang true in large measure, and there even is some appeal to just skipping the holiday altogether. The humor and the cancellation caused me to think about the upcoming birthday season, and what it might mean. Not to go all bah humbug in the coming weeks, however, because I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater — literally.
I’ve never been above humming “you better watch out” when the girls get into a scrap this time of year. While it’s meant with some humor, the message is not one that I want them to learn. Be good — because you’ll get a reward — doesn’t stand the test of time. Rewards for being nice often aren’t as rewarding as they might imagine, and the “must haves” of last year too easily find their way to a back shelf. Recognizing how fast the glitter of the new fades is a fine life lesson to learn. The message to do good where you can, because in the long run it makes you feel better inside, also is one I hope we relearn during this birthday season, and throughout the year.
The same goes for the buying frenzy that accompanies the holiday. One reason I often buy too much is because I want the people on the receiving end to know how much I care about them. More stuff probably does little to convey the intended message. And (while I’m no expert), in addition to being the least materialistic person to roam the earth, the man celebrated at Christmas arguably was one of the most compassionate and giving people to ever set foot on this planet. He gave constantly, but not the fancy or new-fangled stuff. This birthday season I want to put more effort into thinking about the gifts that will better stand the test of time.
In fact, the birthday boy seemed to have a pretty good handle on what brings us happiness on the inside, and the delight that can accompany meaningful giving. It is a special feeling that can grace us this time of year.
There is a slate of legitimate reasons to be skeptical about how we manage this birthday season. Still, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate, and instead of abandoning all hope I’d rather be hopeful, it just makes me feel better.
Today is Colorado Gives Day, a chance to give back to the organizations that help us and others throughout the year. Go ahead and give a little if you’re so inclined, the reward is one you’ll recognize on the inside.
Cindy Bargell is a mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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