By Tom Ehrich

I've decided not to worry about the earlier-than-ever start to Christmas commerce this year.

With hardly a nod to Thanksgiving, stores and advertisers are going full-bore on the supposed "Christmas package," namely, gift-giving, family fun, decorating, and entertaining.

It's sad -- this annual effort to derive profits from a facsimile of a 1950s Christmas -- but other things are a lot sadder.

An elusive economic recovery, for example, continuing gun violence, racial violence and religious-extremism violence, as well as mounting rage and intolerance at home and echoes of the cold war in Europe.

Let commerce tread the line between gauche and tacky -- they have salaries and suppliers to pay, after all. We have a troubled world to care about.

The path to that care doesn't go by way of Wal Mart or Budweiser. It is God's path, and it goes by way of anticipation, promises, prophetic vision, a birth, a life, a death, and over all of it a sustaining grace that cares little for our seasonal receipts, but cares intensely about our lives.

Maybe it's good that commerce has declared its independence from religion and decorum. That leaves the way clear for faith to have its parallel day. Not in competition with commerce, but as the deeper reality that commerce can never attain, the deeper meaning that we yearn for.

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