Archives: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? #4
What Gifts Shall We Bring?
A Giving Calendar Through Advent and Christmas
Christmas can be a time to honor the one whose birthday it is while giving others what they really need - a world without war, racism, poverty, oppression and environmental destruction. Imagine how the world might be different if we had taken the $32 billion we spent on Christmas last year and put it to work for peace, justice and sustainability of God's creation.
Use this calendar, either alone or with others in your household, to consider alternative ways of giving that help to create a more just world.
DEC 1 Advent begins today. Make a list of what Advent means to you. Do your household celebrations focus on the coming of Jesus or the coming of Santa Claus?
2 Make a list of organizations that work with the needy. Research what each of them is doing. Choose what project(s) you wish to support this Christmas. (You may want to read p. 17.)
3 Decorate an empty coffee can with drawings or magazine clippings of those who are needy or pictures of the project(s) you plan to support. Use it to hold money you collect in using this calendar.
4 Count each light you use to decorate this Christmas. Give 1¢ for each.
5 Encourage a child to make drawings for a calendar. The calendar pages and the binding can be obtained at a copy center and multiple copies can be made for relatives.
6 Today is Saint Nicholas Day. Learn more about the story of Bishop Nicholas.
7 Assist victims of poverty and injustice by purchasing gifts made by skilled craftspeople around the world; Visit a self-help craft store today. (For listing of stores by state, see To Celebrate. )
8 Make a list of the things you would like to receive. Include alternative gifts such as the gift of some-one's time or a donation to a hunger project. Give 10¢ for every "luxury" item on your list.
9 Trees cut every Christmas would completely cover the state of Rhode Island. Give 5¢ for every tree in your yard.
10 List the special gifts God has given you---family, health, special talents, etc. Give 10¢ for each gift on your list.
11 Referring to the list you made yesterday, imagine how you could use your talents to give to others.
12 Write a history of your family (for family members) or a history of your friendship with a particular person; include some old photos. Give it as a gift.
13 Challenge your imagination---spend NO MONEY on gifts for the person closest to you.
14 Make a list of specific war toys. Are guns and knives the only kinds of war toys? Give 2¢ for every toy on your list.
15 String popcorn and cranberries for Christmas decorations. (They can be left outside after the holidays as food for birds.)
16 Instead of sending Christmas cards, make a card that shares your concerns as you anticipate the birth of the Prince of Peace. Invite others to sign it and mail it to a political leader.
17 Sort through your closet pulling out clothes you do not need. Donate them to a local clothes closet.
18 Use recyclable gift-wrapping such as baskets, tote bags, scarves and hair ribbons.
19 Give a gift of your time to a child. Give 10¢ for every child in your extended family.
20 Fast for one meal today. Determine how much your family would have spent for a meal at a fast food restaurant and place that amount in your "giving can."
21 Do you know someone who will be spending Christmas alone, hungry or homeless? Invite her/him to share Christmas with your family.
22 The biggest shopping binge of the year creates an enormous amount of waste. Keep track of how many bags of garbage you have this week and give 50¢ for each bag.
23 Volunteer time to help in a program which serves the poor, the elderly, the homeless, the jobless, those in prisons or in hospitals.
24 Think about the gifts you plan to give this Christmas. Would you feel uncomfortable if Jesus was present during your gift-sharing?
25 Take some time out of Christmas festivities to ponder God's greatest gift.
26 Reflect on the ways in which your gift-giving was different this Christmas.
27 Don't allow leftovers to go bad in your refrigerator. Use them to make brown-bag lunches for a nearby shelter. (Contact the shelter beforehand.)
28 Give 5¢ for every "alternative" gift you received this Christmas.
29 Celebrate life! Give a gift of time to an elderly person. You might receive a gift in return!
30 Spend time in prayer thanking God for the gifts God has given you throughout the year.
31 Make some time to be quiet during the evening. Alone or with others express three hopes for the coming year: for yourself, your country, and your world. Give 25¢ for each hope for peace.
Jan 1 Select one way your life can reflect God's spirit. Practice it throughout the year as a gift to God.
2 Christmas trees left in landfills could circle the globe twice if stretched end-to-end. Find out if your community has a Christmas tree recycling center or investigate alternative ways of recycing your tree.
3 Give yourself the gift of knowledge. Choose a third-world country and learn more about it throughout the year.
4 List occasions for which you might give a gift---birthday, wedding, etc. Give 5¢ for every occasion. What "alternative" gifts would be both appropriate and reflect the values you want to share?
5 If you have selected a local organization to give your "giving can" money to, call and ask when you can bring your donation. Schedule a time in January to volunteer there.
6 Today we celebrate Epiphany. The magi brought baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. Think about or discuss the gifts Jesus might want today. Give the money you have collected to the project you chose.
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