Zagreb, Croatia's capital and the city I live in, was voted the best Advent destination in Europe. In the city centre, where I work and live, every square or anything resembling one is covered with stalls selling stuff (mostly made in China), and food stalls selling (mostly) sausages and mulled wine. Everything is full of lights and decorations, fake trees and fake snow. Judging by the number of people visiting Advent it seems majority is very excited about it. I have to say I don’t share their excitement at all. I don’t see this as celebration, I see it as a parade of vanity and consumerism. I don't mind Advent and celebrating, but not this way. I believe the birth of Christ represents the birth of higher consciousness and values he was about like unconditional love, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, modesty, moderation etc. Looking around I see quite the opposite.
When I look at millions of lights hanging from every tree and lamp post, I see an enormous waste of energy as well as light pollution. When I see huge Christmas trees on our squares I think of how many years it took for this tree to grow and I feel sad knowing that this glorious giant will end up somewhere on the rubbish pile only a few weeks from today. When I see plastic trees and decorations I see meaningless waste polluting our planet. When I think of how much time, money and energy was invested to create different Christmas events, concerts, parties etc. I wonder why not, in the spirit of what Christmas should be, are those not all humanitarian events? This excess I see all around has nothing to do with modesty or moderation which Jesus was about. Binge eating and drinking has nothing to do with moderation, spending on meaningless presents has nothing to do with generosity. If Jesus was around I am not sure he'd like what he sees.
Of course, it doesn’t need to be like this, not if we started to see this time for what it truly is. Not if we start teaching ourselves and our kids that this time of year should be about the birth of higher consciousness and about us all being more conscious human beings so we can take this world to a higher vibration. We need to evolve to human beings that are not so easily mislead by shiny lights, shop windows and TV ads. Those who are aware of what is going on around them and are willing to see beyond their own needs and wants. Those who love and take care of our planet, our home. Trough our words and actions we need to teach younger generations to be more compassionate human beings, who understand that there are those less fortunate and it is important to help each other. We all need to learn to love unconditionally and practice forgiveness. To be modest and moderate, not just count but share our blessings. To be the change and to evolve – this is the true meaning of Christmas.
If these words resonated with you, I hope you won’t just agree and do nothing. See what you can do to make this time more conscious and more about love and less about consumerism. This time should be about communities, friends and families. See what you can do for your community as well as your close ones. Think about environment and our Mother Earth; decorate your home with eco-friendly decorations, or reuse old ones. Make decorations with your kids out of recycled materials and teach them about reusing, reducing and recycling. One day, when they grow up I am sure they will remember that moment with joy and pride. Make your family wholesome, healthy meals and with moderation so no food gets thrown away. Take the leftovers to shelters, to those that will spend their Chrismas on the street. Instead of buying presents to those you love and who probably already have everything they need, see if you can give them a present of being there for them, giving them your time, a hug and 'I love you' rather than a new perfume or a new toy. Give that money to charity instead. Volunteer, help a stranger, adopt a pet. Do whatever you can to make someone smile more, to help someone feel the real spirit of Christmas. If we all did one little thing differently this year, imagine how much good we would create together.
I know it isn’t easy to be different, to change your usual ways, to be the ‘black sheep in the family’. But, understand that it is also "no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society" as Krishnamurti wisely said. So, don’t be well adjusted. Be the change instead.
Happy and meaningful holidays to you all!