Can Christmas Be More Than Gifts And Glitter?


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Can Christmas Be More Than Gifts And Glitter?

Listen to one woman's story: This year we bought some family fun for Christmas. Cross-country skis for the kids and time to enjoy them. The skis came early so the gifts under the tree were small. I was worried the kids would be disappointed. They weren't. Jill loved her hat with the long point that hung down her back. Reed danced in his new slippers. Kate ran to the piano and tried out her new piece of sheet music. It was a quiet opening, but just as happy. I've learned that what children, and adults alike, really need from Christmas is a sense of the holy, a bit of beauty and time to digest all the loveliness.

Advertisers, merchants and even our family would have us believe that to have a good Christmas, we must buy and buy and buy. So many of us go in debt buying expensive gifts. We spend countless hours decorating our homes and yards. We bake and cook, bake and cook more food than we could ever eat. What we end up with is an empty pocketbook, raw nerves and indigestion. Barbara DeGrote-Sorensen -- the woman whose story you heard above -- points out the obvious, "Twenty minutes of ripping paper from various boxes doesn't make up for weeks of rushing and stress and foul tempers."

Barbara's story of a peaceful Christmas may sound like a present-day Charles Dickens' novel, but it is not fiction. In fact, each year over 150,000 churches and individuals -- from a number of Protestant denominations and Catholic diocese -- join in the effort to make Christmas more than gifts and glitter. They seek a celebration that is filled with the peace and love promised by the birth of Jesus. They reach out to those in need, as Jesus would ask. They spend quiet time in reflection and joyful time with family and friends. They focus their celebrations on Jesus, and they remember what the season is really all about. And to do so, they must close their ears to the cultural cacophony that is so very prevalent in the weeks before Christmas. It takes a lot of commitment, perseverance and support to live and celebrate in opposition to this consumer culture.

The effort to celebrate a simple Christmas is led by a small, ecumenical all-volunteer group called Simple Living Works! the succesor to Alternatives for Simple Living. Organized in 1972 to protest the commercialization of Christmas, Alternatives provides encouragement and support for those who want to celebrate Jesus' birthday. For over ten years the group has provided people with ideas for celebrating and resources for focusing on Jesus in its booklet, Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? In one edition, Ron Sider shares biblical reflections; another woman shares her story; families or small group activities, an Advent calendar and suggestions for remembering those in need are also included.

People can join in the effort to celebrate a truly joyful and spiritually-fulfilling holiday. All editions of Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? are available for free at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> archives. #####

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This page last updated 2 October 2013 (originally 27 February 2003)

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