Christmas is quickly approaching. I know this especially because I am due with my second child on Christmas Day. It is 44 days away. Many of us have Christmas traditions which have been so deeply ingrained in us, we would never give them up. The way I always remember Christmas is the living room of my mom’s tiny house completely COVERED in gifts. I have 3 siblings and we would each have a huge pile of gifts each year. My mom grew up very humbly and so wanted to give us the Christmas she never had. For many years, she struggled to even provide food for us, but, once she had gotten herself on her feet and was doing well in her career our Christmases exploded! You couldn’t even walk in our living room. She always put much thought and consideration into the gifts for each child and we were always very thankful.
When the time came to decide how Christmas would be in my own home with my own husband and children, I considered many things. At first, I wanted a Christmas just like the one I had had growing up. Tons and tons of gifts for each, the excitement of coming out Christmas morning and seeing the living room full to the brim with gifts. But, three years ago (just after our first child was born), our church decided to take part in a campaign called “The Advent Conspiracy.” The motto of the conspiracy is the title of this post: Worship fully. Spend less. Give more. Love all. The “conspiracy” is one which challenges Christians to do Christmas differently. Every year, Americans spend $450 billion on Christmas gifts. And how many times are those gifts we buy out of sheer obligation, and they don’t mean much at all? It would cost $10 to give a child in an underresourced country clean water to live on for their ENTIRE life. We could give the entire world clean water for LIFE with only $10 billion. That’s $440 billion less than we spent on Christmas in America in one year! That is startling to me. The Advent Conspiracy encourages people to spend less on gifts (not not buy anything!) or make homemade, meaningful gifts, and then use the money you would have spent on Christmas to give. Last year, we used ours to provide Christmas to a needy family here in Tallahassee who otherwise wouldn’t have had a Christmas for their children.
This concept has transformed my holiday season. Selfishly, I enjoyed Christmas so much more last year when I was not running to the stores and scrambling to figure out what to get every person on my list. I was able to relax, enjoy family and celebrations. I created homemade ornaments for our family members and bought a few small things for our kids. Michael and I decided only to stuff each others’ stockings last year and give away all of what we would have spent on each other. We hope that doing Christmas this way will encourage our family and friends to rethink Christmas and transform the way our children will grow up seeing Christmas. It will enable us and them to focus on what Christmas is truly all about: celebrating the birth of our savior, NOT getting everything on our list. One day when our kids are older, we hope that even our Christmas traditions will be others-centered instead of inward focused (i.e. serving breakfast at a shelter, etc.) We always make the point to share with our families where we have given to that year so they will know the good that has been done with that money. Sometimes it’s still hard for me to do Christmas this way. I want my child to have everything he wants. The selfishness in me wants things for myself, too! I’d love to have multiple gifts to open up on Christmas morning. But, I must bring my heart back to why we even have Christmas in the first place. It’s not about trees, caroling, shopping, Santa, and lists. It’s about Christ.
I don’t write this to make anyone feel guilty for how they do Christmas at their house. I just think about how powerful it can be if Christians make a stand AGAINST commercialism, overspending, and debt and FOR Christ. For more information on The Advent Conspiracy, check out http://www.adventconspiracy.org and for great ideas on meaningful gift-giving, check out http://www.rethinkingchristmas.com.