Christians rethinking ChristmasDecember 17, 2009Jon Brooks 1 Comment »
Where does the thinking of some progressives and some evangelicals overlap? Perhaps in their mutual dismay at the ubiquitous commercialism surrounding Christmas. For instance, take this chat between filmmaking muckraker Morgan Spurlock (“Supersize Me“) and Portland Pastor Rick McKinley, a co-founder of The Advent Conspiracy, a movement to put the focus of Christmas back on Jesus Christ as opposed to shopping for gifts. Time magazine writes this week:
McKinley is one of the leaders of an effort to do away with the frenzied activity and extravagant gift-giving of a commercial Christmas. Through a savvy viral video and marketing effort, the so-called Advent Conspiracy movement has exploded. Hundreds of churches on four continents and in at least 17 countries have signed up to participate. The Advent Conspiracy video has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, and the movement boasts nearly 45,000 fans on Facebook.
What! No presents! What’s the point, then?
Well, The Advent Conspiracy urges people to celebrate Christmas not by buying gifts but by spending time with family, exchanging home-made presents, and giving to charity. Here’s the video:
The group has a companion site called Rethinking Christmas, which includes a section for people to post alternative gift ideas. Some have a decidedly Christian theme, and some do not. Here are some for everyone:
Talk time with a friend far away
I have 2 good friends who live on the other side of the country. Over the years we have lost touch just from getting busy. Last year I mailed each of them a mug and some tea bags that I had. I enclosed a card saying that every 2 months, on the anniversary date of their birthday I would call and we would catch up. It has been wonderful. I mark it on my calender and despite needing to change the date or time occassionally, I am back in touch with both close friends. My one friend told me it was her favorite gift she received last year.
Small photo albums and used books
This year, I am making small photo albums for people that include photos of times together. You can buy small photo-sized albums now at most craft and stationary stores. They are just made of card stock and you stick the photos to each page; one page for one photo. In the back of the photo album, I am adding a paragraph that talks about what that friend or family member means to me, how they inspire me and the value they share back to the world.
I’m also adding to each gift a used book I have bought called Christmas Classics from the Modern Library. You can still buy used copies of this out-of-print paperback book for around $5 online. It includes poetry, stories, and book excerpts from our most famous Christmas literature and some I had never heard of. It is a wonderful book to read aloud during the season.
Home made gift of down-home cooking
This year in our family we are giving each family member (our children are all grown) two gifts from each of us. So my husband and I have two projects each to make. I am making each family a binder containing all of the recipes I cooked for them while we raised them. I have done cross-stitch covers for each binder and am scanning the recipes onto 4 x 6″ recipe cards, many of them in my own handwriting and some in my mother’s. I am including some photos with the recipes and special instructions for each child according to what extra info I think they may need or ideas for variations on the recipes. I am also making them each a pair of PJ bottoms. My husband is making them a small heart shaped, wooden tray which holds napkins and wooden salt and pepper shakers. The trays were on sale for $3 each, the shakers and napkin holder we found at a dollar store for $1 each. His second project is a wooden pegboard game called Shi. These games use wooden beads which also can be purchased at the dollar store. With our savings from Christmas gifts we will be able to donate generously to the safe water campaign our church sponsors each Christmas.
One of the interesting components of this is that if the movement ever really made a dent in holiday spending, which is monitored obsessively by the business press, the stock market, and economic planners, then a backlash would likely emerge charging that the whole thing was costing the country jobs…