Sunday, December 08, 2013

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like A Simple Christmas

Are you getting that feeling this Christmas season? It's not necessarily a new feeling, either. Its tingle might feel a little familiar. Likely you experienced it last year. Perhaps even the year before that.
It's that feeling that Christmas could be, should be a heckuva lot simpler.
I'm meeting up with a lot of people who are expressing the same wish that I have: Christmas is too commercial and too focused on stuff. There's too much pressure to buy things and people are getting harder to buy for.
The way the feeling is manifesting itself in me this year is a desire to be donating money instead of buying gifts.
With my mother home with us for Christmas this year, we have been attending the Advent services at church together. On the first day, we received a sheet of paper that works as a Advent giving calendar. Each day, we are given a monetary task to fulfill, like "Give 10 cents for every Christmas CD you have" or "Give five cents for every Christmas card you will send".
Yesterday, the feeling hit me with a wallop. My husband and I were going to attend the Christmas Open Mic at the theatre in Oxford and admission was a monetary donation to the food bank. Whomp! Like a punch to the chest, I felt that this was how I wanted to celebrate Christmas, this was how I wanted to spend my money.
Giving. Helping. 
Why am I buying socks for our stockings when I could be buying a gift for a child?
Why am I buying chocolates for our stockings when I could be donating to the food bank?
Why am I buying books for our stockings when I could be making a donation to the local library?
Why am I buying hand lotion for our stockings when I could be donating those to a women's shelter?
This list could go on...Obviously "just stockings" is still creating a shopping monster.
Listening to friends talk about this yesterday, I heard them say, "It's the kids who want to do gifts. They're the ones who say 'Oh, Mom, we want to buy you gifts'." And families with children still at home, couples with grandchildren must find it very difficult to resist the orgy-of-gifts circus that Christmas has become.
Imagine Christmas as a season of gratitude instead greed.
Yet it's the whole idea that Christmas is about giving that trips us up in the end.The statements ring out: "We want to give you gifts" and "I have to give my parents gifts" even when those gifts are just money or gift cards, presents with no thought or meaning behind them.
We can't even hold ourselves to one gift each. It's always one more thing... Stockings are a joke! I already have so much, the stuffed stockings will balance on a pile of stocking gifts. Yeesh. 
But I am amazed that every year, more and more people are expressing the idea that gift-giving should be scaled back if not stopped altogether. They -- we -- aren't anti-Christmas but instead, they -- we -- want to focus on something different for Christmas.
There is no stocking big enough, to space under the tree wide enough, no box deep enough to hold all the blessings in our lives.

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