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No conversion, it's still about shopping Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Dec 17 2011 12:00 PM

Jane West invited me to her church.
The overture came after she read a column I authored about the  period between Halloween and Dec. 31.
“Let’s dispense with the charade that the months of November and December are about celebrating Christ, God, family... Let’s call it what it is: The Shopping Season,” I wrote at the time.
West said she hoped I was merely trying to get a rise out of people. If I wasn’t then she was appalled I could write such a thing.
“For anyone to write ‘to hell with Christmas’ ...  is indeed a travesty,” she said, quoting me.
OK. Maybe the hell part was a little over the top. But the sentiment — my sentiment — is genuine: the holidays ain’t what they used to be if they were ever about anything other than consumerism.
West’s contention is that for her, and Christians like her, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and all it entails.
Fair enough. What people believe is their business, not mine.
Which brings us to Sunday. And the Risen Savior on Otay Lakes Road.
A visit here, West said, would show me what Christmas was all about.
While the service wasn’t unpleasant, neither was there a road to Damascus moment. The Christ-centric message was the same I’ve heard elsewhere.
Interestingly enough the pastor, in making a point about accepting God’s plan, asked the children in attendance to imagine a Christmas in which all their gifts had disappeared.
While it was only a passing remark, mentioned in the spirit of submitting oneself to God’s will, it nevertheless reminded me of what brought me to church that Sunday morning.
Someone had taken exception to my writing that for two months of the year our society, our culture — whatever you want to call it — focuses heavily on shopping.
From October through December we are bombarded with commercials urging us to buy presents. We listen to and see stories about people standing in line at midnight to get the best deal on goods that, in all likelihood, are not necessities.
From the time we are old enough to attend preschool and learn about Santa leaving presents under a tree, to the days we put aside money from our paychecks to buy Christmas gifts, we’re conditioned to believe this time of year is about giving and receiving presents.
For some, like West, Christ is the reason for the season.
But my contention remains that for many, if not most, the spirit of the holidays was trampled on the way to the cash register.

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