Simplify and Celebrate – What Makes for a Better Christmas or a Better World?

by Christine Sine

Christmas is coming. We know it well because all the demons of consumerism and materialism have reared their ugly heads all around us. Most of us find ourselves in a real bind. Do we have a gift free Christmas and turn our backs entirely on consumerism? Do we buy only gifts that come from fair trade, slave free, or local organization and feel that we are making difference with our purchases? Or do we develop a holier than thou attitude and turn our backs completely on the secular celebration of the season?

If we are honest, most of us struggle with these issues and are not sure how to enter into the true spirit of Christmas without disappointing our kids or denying our own enjoyment of Christmas goodies and unexpected presents. Simplify Christmas, Celebrate Christ we tell ourselves while hoping that we will find a Kindle Fire, or new camera under the tree.

For most of us our simplification of Christmas is a compromise that hopefully does focus more on the celebration of the birth of Christ than on the secular materialistic spirit of the season. If you are struggling with these issues here are some thoughts to reflect on. I realize that some of them may be a little late for this season but they will give us a jump start on next year.

  1. Watch these videos from A New American Dream and reflect spend time reflecting on the values that underly your Christmas expenditure. Is Christ truly at the center of your celebrations?
  2. Watch this even more thought provoking video from Advent Conspiracy and then consider some changes
  3. Delay your celebration of Christmas by celebrating Advent and the season of waiting, in the days leading up to Christmas. This post by Charlie Clauss has some great thoughts on why this matters. I find that when I truly enter into the spirit of Advent that Christmas shopping is no longer enjoyable.
  4. Simplify Christmas: Consider some of these suggestions on how to simplify life during this season and bear witness to the love of God.
  5. Celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve and give Christmas away to someone else on Christmas.  Day 
  6. Consider alternative celebrations to the usual Christmas parties. MSA team member Cindy Todd made soap for an event at Church of the Beloved in Edmonds Washington whose theme was – A Slave Free Christmas.  It highlighted making or buying articles that were made without slave labour. Participants also watched and talked about the film Dreams Die Hard and talked about the issues of slavery still present in the United States.
  7. Consider paying more for less when you buy gifts. Tom and I are Christmas people and to be honest could not really imagine no gifts at Christmas, but we do restrict our gift giving and try to buy locally produced or fair trade items as much as possible. And that does not mean that we restrict our giving to coffee and chocolate either. There are a growing array of stores that provide fair traded gifts in everything from clothing to soccer balls.
  8. Consider alternative charitable gifts to organizations like World Concern, and Heifer Project  that provide animals and other gifts for people in impoverished communities to enable them to start small businesses.
  9. Give away one day’s wages to an organization of your choice – like One Days Wages – that works to overcome poverty.

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