Christmas, where are you?

There’s a commercial that I see everywhere lately. A little girl and her dad are working on a volcano for her science fair. But something goes wrong and at the last minute the volcano doesn’t explode (as a fellow procrastinator, I feel her pain). Her dad’s solution: a $1,000 flat screen television! She can just show the judges what a volcano looks like!

And then, successful science fair experience behind them, the family curls up together to watch a movie. Apparently expensive tvs are good at bringing families together as well as facilitating academic success. In another Christmas commercial, this one for some luxury car, a young, handsome man shows his wife her present—a fancy SUV with a big red bow. She smiles, only to have her face immediately fall because she wanted adifferent expensive car.

Judge American society based on television commercials and you might get the idea that we’re a pretty frivolous bunch. Ads constantly scream, “Your child/spouse/parent/pet will only love you if you buy them the best!”

Meanwhile, Syrian refugees are fleeing for their lives and being turned away from nations’ borders with nowhere to go.

In Chennai, India, hundreds of people are dead and thousands have been displaced because of flooding.

The terrorist attacks in Paris last month killed 129 people. It all makes all of my own problems seem pretty trivial.

That might explain why I’m having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. It doesn’t seem quite right to sit around a decorated tree in my warm apartment, drinking hot cocoa and listening to lyrics like, “O tidings of comfort and joy” or “Joy to the world.”

Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation, of anticipation and excitement for the coming of Christ. It feels more like the end times than the beginning of something special. Continue reading

  • Emily Sanna is an associate editor at U.S. Catholic.
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