When is technology too much?
It’s sort of an interesting phenomenon how so many “greenies” are also kind of techno-geeks, very attached to our digital Stuff. On the one hand it sort of makes sense. In a lot of cases, the tech can sort of stand in for and reduce actual paper use, and reduce transit of communication. It makes it possible to stay in touch with friends year-round, instead of only once a year with the Generic Christmas Letter. (And despite impassioned apologetics for their continued existence, I can’t get attached to the concept of Christmas cards as a prerequisite for “personal” connection during the holidays. I continue to resist the idea that digital communication is by its very nature less “personal” than something that comes printed on paper; it’s just not true. Ask any of those of my dear friends whom I didn’t even meet in person till we’d been online friends for upwards of 3 years. True, there is plenty of shallow and sort of meaningless digital communication, but there’s plenty of it also in day to day “in person” conversation as well.) The DVR means we can record “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and watch it several times, rather than battling our VCR to record it, which in 9 years of marriage has never quite been successful. And Norad Santa? I love it.
So technology doesn’t bother me much. I actually like it a lot.
Until, with the approach of Christmas, a celebration I have always held as very special in both an intimate and a universal way, and a time that has for me been about cherishing the beautiful timeless moments of our earthly existence, I see things like this:
(not my Westmont, by the way…) Really? I mean, seriously? A “christmas experience” that shouldn’t take more than ten or fifteen minutes, for which you don’t even have to leave your car?
Or watch Youtube blurbs like this (though I admit on some level it’s cute, it also disturbs me a little):
Then there are those who think Christmas is lost for good. That the commercial consumerist spending bacchanal is the unequivocal winner of the “war on Christmas.” I find there’s not much in that article I can really disagree with.
Am I being too pessimistic? Is there hope?
In the meantime–and maybe this is an answer to my above question–tomorrow evening our family will head over to the little nondenominational Christian church where my kids have after-school care, and watch our children in their first-ever Christmas pageant. They will sing all the Christmas carols, the ones I learned when I was a kid, they will each speak their one line that they’ve been practicing for weeks, they will be dressed up as angels and shepherds, and afterwards we will all have a pot-luck supper in the church basement. I will yell at my husband because he will be so attached to the camcorder that he won’t actually get to see the pageant itself, someone will probably knock over a piece of scenery or forget their line, the dinner afterwards might have 4 crockpots of meatballs and no desserts because they aren’t fussing about making sure there’s a balance of food, but it will be a big noisy happy gathering of new and old friends.
Maybe the problem is that we try to make Christmas into the be-all end-all of perfection, every year trying to top the year before…maybe if we can just let Christmas be Christmas, whatever it means in our own family and community, and let the technology kind of go along with that rather than the reverse of trying to shoehorn Christmas into our hi-tech lives, we might find a little more comfort and joy?
Just a thought.