Sunday, December 19, 2010

We have it pretty good on this old rock

I took my life in my hands and went for a drive in both downtown and uptown St. John’s yesterday morning to see how retail is doing in this run-up to Christmas. Finding a place to park at one of the malls was nearly impossible and some restaurants had people lined up to get in. Conspicuous consumption is roaring right along.

But what are we celebrating? Clearly, it is not the birth of the Christ child some two thousand years ago; rather, we’re equating happiness with the number and quality of gifts to be found under the tree. In this case, quality often means cost. Separate surveys by two organizations have come to the conclusion that Canadians will spend about $600 on Christmas gifts this year. That’s a long way from days of yore when some fruit and candy were considered to be Christmas luxuries. I had a chance to talk to an elderly woman in the line-up at a Wal-Mart checkout the other day and she shared some of her early Christmas memories. None of them had to do with expensive gifts; all of them had to do with family.

Again this year, on Christmas Day, St. Thomas’ Church at 8 Military Road in St. John's is offering its traditional Christmas dinner. Two sittings: 11:45am and 1:00pm.  If you are interested in volunteering with this ministry, or if you wish to make a dinner reservation, please contact the church office at 709-576-6632, ext. 401 and leave a message or via e-mail to christmas_dinner(at)   They can always use extra volunteers, so if you can spare some time to help, it would be gratefully received. Donations come in handy too!

I was reading through the online edition of the New York Times this morning and came across a story about health care in rural Zimbabwe, entitled “Zimbabwe Health Care, Paid With Peanuts”. Here’s a brief excerpt: “It’s very difficult to get this famous dollar that people are talking about,” said Esther Chirasasa, 30, who hiked eight miles through the bush to the hospital for treatment of debilitating arthritis. Her son, Cain, 13, walked at her side carrying a sack of peanuts to pay for her care. Mrs. Chirasasa said her family of seven was nearly out of the food they grew on their small plot, so she needed to get her pain under control to work in other farmers’ fields to feed her children.”

When you think about that, you realize how good we have it here on this rock in the Atlantic.

Six more sleeps to go before Christmas Day. It sounds like a cliché but maybe this year is the time we reconnect with the roots of Christmas and whether or not we believe the Bible story, the reason for Christmas is far, far away from debit cards and credit cards.

No comments: