Helping Others: the Real Meaning of Christmas

Roger Lovin talks about the true meaning of Christmas: giving to those in need.

| November/December 1971

Christmas is coming; the goose is getting fat. Won't you please put a penny in the old man's hat? If you haven't got a penny, a ha-penny will do. If you haven't got a ha-penny . . .

If you haven't got a half-penny, you are part of the other eighty percent of the inhabitants of this planet.

Christmas is the biggest and most meaningful of the western world's traditions. In time and money invested, in emotional energy expended, in weight and solemnity, no other event can touch the celebration of Christ's birth.

To the end of making this occasion joyous and festive, the Christian world spends eighty billions of dollars annually. On gifts; on parties; on travel; on decoration and adornment. The yearly Christmas expenditure in the United States equals the entire financial worth of many governments. The amount spent on candy alone is staggering—half a billion dollars! More money is spent on gift-wrapping materials each year than on all charities combined.

To the end of maintaining "tradition," five hundred million trees die each winter. They die before seeding. They die to the sole purpose of bringing into dreary little boxes the same sight and smell the inhabitants could get free every day, simply by seeking out the land they have fled with their bodies and yearn for with their souls.

To the end of proving our charity and assuaging our consciences, each year we "give." We buy "seals." We drop a penny or a quarter on the bum whom we avoid the other three hundred and forty-odd days of the year. We remember the church and put something in the plate.

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