For being a time of peace, goodwill and joy, Christmas generates a lot of controversy, not the least of which is the variance between out-of-control materialism and the event, Christ’s birth on earth, that a number of people celebrate.
It has always intrigued us that Easter, which celebrates the arguably more impressive resurrection of Christ, is generally observed quietly, with little controversy because there is less pressure to buy, buy, buy electronics and toys and clothes and DVDs and stuff. What is odd, however, is that despite this freedom from materialism, many within religious households make less of the day than they do Christmas.
Christmas does not have to be an us versus them thing, and indeed, as a cultural holiday, embraces many within the celebration. Santa does not have to be an evil, distracting influence, as some accuse him of being — and when he is separated from the glutted sense of marketing and frenzied attitude toward shopping — his message is a good one: he gives gifts. He loves children. He recognizes the child that lives within the adult. He rejoices in the lights, the music, the frost on the windowpane, the cookies, the warmth of friends and family gathering together.
These elements all fit into the spirit of the original Christmas story, and in the painting, These Gifts Are Better Than Toys, Santa focuses on painting, with infinite care and respect, figurines from the Nativity story. Though the figurines are smaller than Santa, what they represent is greater, and it is clear that Santa — though he is great and jolly and good — is subservient to One who is greater, and kinder, and better.
The purchaser of the original painting commented, “Santa has kind eyes,” and that observation speaks volumes. In a society that literally worships making money, and advancing up the ladder, and exhibiting cunning and craftiness as a means to achieve “success,” kindness is a virtue that does not — simply cannot — go out of style. If one cannot grasp the sheer goodness of God, and His kindness toward the human beings He has created, then Santa provides an example that the youngest child — dwelling deep within even the most cynical adult — can understand: Santa does not give lumps of coal, even to the naughtiest child.
The original painting of These Gifts Are Better Than Toys is sold; the work is available as a limited edition print through iCanvasART. It is also available as a greeting card, individual or in sets, at Give Write Cards.
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