The story begins with a married couple whose only daughter is leaving the nest to join the Peace Corps. The prospect of their first Christmas without a child in the house causes a few ideas to click together in the husband's head.
He is an accountant, hence he knows the value of money very well. He added up the cost of "doing" Christmas and had to pick his jaw up off the floor. So, he convinced his wife "let's skip that whole thing, and do something for ourselves this year", and they planned a trip to the Bahamas or some such.
The book is then about the ramifications of that decision. These can be summarized as the societal embrace of their neighborhood and the expectations to partake in the holiday parties and decorating and whatnot. But the last half of the book has a strange twist of the plotline which I'll leave as a surprise to the reader.
Where this story resonated for me is the general over-the-top consumerism associated with the Christmas festivities we have today in America.
So, tell me, where in the Bible did it say that Jesus died to inspire us to buy 50" Plasma TV sets? Was the message Jesus brought one of spend and buy yourself into debt every year?
Obviously that wasn't the message Jesus brought. His message was of spiritual truth, which he demonstrated in his work. He spoke of love and harmony with our fellow beings. He spoke of living divine wisdom. He spoke of forgiveness.
Nowhere did he say that the Kingdom of Heaven is to be found in a feast of gluttony.
The modern practice of Christmas is, to my eye, very sick. I find it very difficult to watch it occur every year. Down the block from me is a house where the decorations for Haloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, are completely out of proportion. They have lights all over the place, huge statues of different figures (lit of course) related to each of the holidays, etc. There's probably a soundtrack playing in the yard, but I haven't gotten close enough to their house to know.
These symbols and images are so disconnected from the source of the tradition that's being celebrated. Haloween, for example, is "All Hallows Eve", the night before "All Saints Day". It's a kind of shadow side to exploring ones dark nature before one celebrates the purity represented by the Saints.
Just how did that become a gluttonous feast of candies?