Asceticism or Indulgence?

2 Jan

Two weeks and last year since I wrote anything here.  Christmas has been on most fingertips, but it left me with a dry taste in my mouth. Every year after Christmas, I have an uncomfortable feeling that it was NOT the way I wanted to celebrate. I am a christian, a born again one. One that loves Jesus 365 days a year. Not just on Christmas day.

In these days leading up to the D-day when everything has to be perfect, I look around me and  I feel strangled between 2 extremes – and neither of them are appealing to me. My few hundreds of friends on Facebook – noble intentions, bless their souls –  remind me ad nauseatum that Christmas is about Jesus, His birth, His love for us and His sacrifice, and not about fun, food, family or friends. Others – those who don’t spare much thought about Jesus any of these 365 days – are welcoming Christmas only to associate it with holidays, as well as spending money and time on themselves and sometimes even on others.

So I am left with choosing to have:

  • A strictly Christian Christmas. If I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and be a witness to what I truly celebrate on the 25th, it should be radically different from what the world does. It’s difficult to explain that Christmas is only about Jesus…while I also buy gifts for everybody I share some blood with, and indulge in a feast, such as cucumber jelly or cabbage with shaved uncooked noodle sprinkled on top (real fact).
  • On the other hand, if I don’t want to appear super-spiritual by going the ascetic way, I should go all out, and imitate the world , even if it is as nauseating as the elevated number of reminders of what Christmas is about on my newsfeed Facebook page. To give you an idea of what indulgence is,on the morning of the 25th, I decided to go the shops at 7am to avoid the crowd. As I arrived at the shop, I had a nightmare flashback of the day my mum, sister and I had to queue hours in advance to attend Madonna-I-throw-my-panties-to-the-audience’s concert: pushing, shoving, screaming, stepping, overtaking… and my kids were not even with me! I don’t know what was the most disturbing: the length of the queue or the fact that I was taking part in it. Leaving the shops having been robbed of my time, patience and (quite) a few hundreds rands, I wondered if the braai was really worth it!

That is what Kerry taught me about ‘being stuck between a rock and a hard place’. At least, it feels that way from my cliff up here.

So what’s the answer? Am I doomed to be hypocrite or a pagan? Or worse, a compromised being, feeling that I betrayed the one side and had been abused by the other? Is there no other way out? The answer to that bracelet WWJD would come in handy right now! Although Jesus being a baby at that time never had to face that dilemna!

I suspect – and I have a bit more than 300 days before the next debarkation of green and red happens on our shore – that there is no correct answer. Every family is different. We don’t live in a clean world with totally Christian families celebrating a totally Christian Christmas or with totally non-Christian families celebrating a totally non-Christian Christmas (talk about alliteration, apologies to my editor friend!).

2011 is for real: next Christmas won’t catch me unprepared. I don’t know yet what I will remove –  definitely less hospital – and what I will add – maybe a bigger sense of humour. As WordPress wishes its every blogger “Whether you prefer your Christmas somber and reflective (…understand the boring christian way) or festive and Santa-focused (…understand the indulgent pagan way) – or maybe a bit of both (…understand the compromised way, trying to please everyone and ending up offending everyone) … we hope that you have a good one.

… alternatively, I could skip it!

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2 Responses to “Asceticism or Indulgence?”

  1. Ingrid January 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    Ok. Take 2!
    I know that there are options in between, although I am not sure which ones would be appealing to me.
    My thought process was trying to take a (humourous) look at both extreme cases, without any judgement on either one, splashed with some poetic licence 🙂

  2. Taryn January 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Hospital this Christmas? What happened?!

    On yr thoughts… I wonder if there are a few options between the two extremes that you mention that don’t compromise the gospel but that also don’t leave you with that dry feeling in yr mouth? Something just right for yr own family?

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