Yesterday we met someone bitter about how commercialized Christmas has become.
We meet such people all the time. Although everyone's conception of a proper Christmas celebration is different - some would emphasize religious tradition, or family togetherness, or laughter and fun, or family traditions, or a chance to sing, or just a chance to rest - almost nobody welcomes the intense advertising blitz and the relentless demands to buy things.
However, most people feel powerless to respond. We cannot, after all, close the stores, turn off their sound tracks, and outlaw their advertisements. And indeed, we cannot expect the commercial culture to fix itself, because it will always be more profitable to sell things than to not sell things.
But we are not powerless to respond, because we can displace our own impulses to purchase with something much more powerful, which is the desire for meaning.
When we buy someone a gift, we are trying to demonstrate affection, recognition, caring, and/or conformity. What we need is a different and better way to express those things, a way that does not involve purchasing.
That's what The Christmas Game is for. That's why it was created - to help families build a Christmas Tradition founded not on the minor Christmas tradition of the gift-exchange, but instead on the fundamental Christmas tradition of coming together in love and fellowship to care for others.
When you play The Christmas Game you'll still prepare for the holidays, and you'll plan wonderful surprises, but Kmart and Walmart won't be much help. Instead, you'll be planning fun and meaningful ways to spend time with family and helping others.
Is that hard to imagine, or does it sound too difficult? That's why we created the books and the cards. It's easy to get started, and once you do you'll start having your best Christmases ever, and each year they'll get better.
Over time, gift-giving will become a smaller and smaller part of the celebration, as more meaningful activities begin to displace the presents. Then you'll be spending less money on presents, and less time on shopping. That will make Christmas less stressful.
However, and perhaps counterintuitively, once you get off the gift-giving merry-go-round, the commercialism around Christmas won't bother you as much because you won't be participating in it. The ads won't speak to you because you're not shopping for presents.
If your loved one needs a pair of boots or would enjoy a particular book, you might get them that. But you won't be wandering the malls searching for inspiration for things to buy. When you play The Christmas Game, the inspiration comes from somewhere else. After you play for a while, you'll develop a long list of games, traditions, and activities that are more meaningful for your family, and even for your neighbors, than any inflatable snowman could ever be.
And that's how you take the air out of Christmas commercialism.