Once again, we need to be reminded about “the Reason for the season” and work on keeping Christ in our Christmas. Many people agree that the commercialization of Christmas and the holiday season has pushed the true meaning of Christmas aside. This year is no different.
Further evidence of America’s obsession with the commercialization of Christmas can be found in the latest PNC Christmas Price Index results for 2011, which, similarly to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), is a reflection of American consumer and spending habits. Based on current costs for one set of all the items mentioned in the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” The True Cost of Christmas (another moniker for the PNC CPI), is defined as “the cumulative cost of all the gifts when you count each repetition in the song so it reflects the cost of 364 gifts.”
Thinking about buying your true love the 364 gifts from The Twelve Days of Christmas, this holiday season? Well think again, unless you have very deep pockets or one of those magical money trees growing out back. For the first time in 28 years, the cumulative cost of the PNC CPI has broken into the six digit range with the 2011 price tag coming in at $101,119. Even if you were to only buy one set of the 12 gifts, you will still have to spend upwards of $24,000 if shopping in stores, or $40,000 if buying online (according to PNC, the cost of shipping live birds is the reason for the price disparity between shopping in stores versus online).
The structure of PNC’s calculation methodology provides plenty of opportunity for skeptics and critics to question the soundness and accuracy of the Index. Some may argue, for example, if a musicians’ union would really offer the most competitive prices for hired drummers. Others may raise an eyebrow at the figure calculated for the eight maids-a-milking, who “are the only unskilled laborers in the Index, and as such, they reflect the minimum wage,” according to PNC. But this begs the question, how do you factor in the cows, and how many hours are they hired to milk? And what about the objectivity of the vendor selector — by chance, they don’t happen to live or work in Pennsylvania, do they?
Feminists might make noise about the fact that the cost of “Nine Ladies Dancing” has increased by 300 percent over the past 25 years, due to an overall increase in the cost of entertainment, with some touting the advancement of women in the workforce, while others cry outrage over the sexism of choosing female over male dancers. These are all interesting arguments best left for discussion at another time.
Rather than focusing on the whopping price tag of the PNC CPI and the overall obsession with Christmas time consumption, as Christians we should spend this holiday season immersed in the Word and reflecting on the Christ in Christmas. Don’t get me wrong; the Christmas gift marketplace is not something to avoid altogether. In fact, even Jesus used the marketplace as an opportunity to speak to His people, making 122 of his 132 public appearances in the marketplace.
However, amidst our Christmas shopping endeavors, let us remember God’s Word and message to us from 1 Timothy 6:17, which reads, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Here is proof positive that there is no need to spend $101,119 on earthly possessions, because our Father provides everything for our enjoyment at a very compelling price — for free. Sharing this message with non-believers will be the greatest gift you could ever give them, and requires no gift-wrapping or bows.
And though gift-giving is an age-old Christmas tradition, starting with the Three Kings and their offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, let us remember the Reason for the season and be joyful recipients of God’s greatest gift.
Our guest blogger today is Elizabeth Waller. Elizabeth serves as a research fellow for Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.