In the Dr. Seuss classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Grinch plots and schemes to keep Christmas from coming to Whoville. On Christmas morning, he finds that his plot has been a failure. Instead of wailing, he hears the sound of singing. Christmas had come, after all. “It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!” After puzzling three hours till his puzzler was sore, he realized Christmas came from no store.
Concerns about our deteriorating environment, excessive consumerism, and a general lack of spiritual satisfaction have led many people to search for a simpler life-style. There’s an industry of advice on how to organize or get rid of some of the stuff cluttering our lives. You can even see some of it on television! Many Christian sources are addressing these issues with practical advice. Bill McKibbon, the well-known environmentalist, wrote a book 20 years ago called, “The Hundred-Dollar Christmas,” still well worth reading. The Presbyterian Mission agency created a web page of helpful thoughts, at presbyterianmission.org/justliving.
Ideas from these two sources include:
Slow down; pray and renew; share tasks; serve others.
Make your own wreath from branches cut from the bottom of a Christmas tree.
Cut your own tree locally and make it a family affair.
Decorate a large houseplant instead of buying a tree.
If you have an artificial tree, use it as long as possible.
Consider homemade gifts; the Internet is full of ideas, many of them easy, for creating personalized, heartfelt gifts.
If crafts or art aren’t your thing, perhaps you have a skill you could teach someone.
Give handcrafted gifts created by people in poverty (see Ten Thousand Villages).
Give a donation to a charity that is important to your loved one.
Give board games or cards with a promise to play with the recipient.
Remember that your time and presence are valuable and welcomed!
More ideas will appear next month, including food gifts and wrapping ideas. For now, do not miss the article that follows from Mission, Parish Life, and the youth of the Malawi Team, concerning Fair Trade gifts. The event is coming December 8!