Last year my husband read this book called The Advent Conspiracy. It inspired us to change the way we do some things at this time of year. It's about how Christmas is supposed to change the world. Christ's birth changed the world and when we celebrate that each year, we should celebrate by changing the world. It talks about how much money Americans spend on Christmas each year and what impact we could have if even a portion of that was spent instead on...you guessed it...changing the world!
So we did some things differently last year. We cut down the amount of money we spent on gifts...by quite a bit! We wanted some of our gifts to each other to go beyond us and change the world so Chris, Ephraim, and I all got TOMS shoes as our main gift. If you don't know TOMS, for every pair of shoes you buy, they give a pair to a child in need. We gave E three gifts because that's how many gifts Jesus got from the wise men. Simple, but it pulled our focus closer to where it should be.
You know what started happening this year? I realized one evening how quickly we forget. We start seeing ads and reading magazines and looking through toy catalogues and we want and we want and we want. Man, it's so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of spending this time of year!
So we "reigned ourselves in," as Chris put it. We stepped back and remembered that this is a time of celebration and part of how we celebrate is by giving each other gifts and feasting together. (God told His people to feast all the time in the Old Testament as a celebration of what He had done for them!) So I feel like that's all well and good. At the same time, you look at how many people don't have clean water and how many are dying from malaria because they don't have a mosquito net and how many are literally dying because they don't have a pair of shoes and they walk over toxic stuff every day. You look at how many people don't have their basic needs met and you just have to reign yourself in a little. Scale it back. Let's buy a little less for our families and give a little more to the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Let's read some sort of advent readings with our kids every night so they learn what it is they are celebrating. Let's help someone in need. Let's teach our children that Jesus changed the world that night and show them how they can continue that legacy.