Hope you all like the snow traipsing across my screen – I thought I had better do something a little festive here to mark the season! Please don’t misinterpret my title for any scrooge like disdain for Christmas. On the contrary, I think it is a wonderful time of the year. I love the holidays, choosing presents, and yeah, I am not so holy as to deny the fact that I like receiving them too. My title is more a reflection on what is left about Christmas when the spending, giving, receiving and returning frenzy is over? (Lets face it, a lot of unwanted presents are given and received every year. I am sure that ebay went wild by about midmorning on December 25th). Most gifts lose their gleam quickly enough. No matter how much they were or are desirable. I found this clip on youtube that sums it up nicely. Except it tries unhappily to blend the story of Jesus with Christmas present disatisfaction. There is something disturbing about Jesus, who during his time on earth had very little in the way of possessions, being portrayed as an infant bemoaning the fact that he received frankinsense instead of an iphone (ok, I am reading my own wants into this one!). I think it is symptomatic of our culture that is far more focussed on receiving rather than giving. I know there are exceptions to this everywhere, and those stories, individuals and communities should be celebrated. But our obsession with “stuff” irks me. Not the least because I am guilty too, even though I know better. I haven’t had many people wish me “happy Christmas this year”. No, it is not because I have no friends, but because people seem to be wishing each other “happy holidays”, “enjoy the festivities”, and other such greetings. Nothing much to do with “Christ”mas at all. And maybe this is appropriate. Or at least honest. If celebrating God coming to live amongst us is at best shoved off to one side at Christmas, then lets not pretend. For those of us who follow Jesus, the challenge is loud and clear during this time we call “Christmas”, and beyond it. For the consumerist scourge that raises its head at Christmas is alive and well all year round.