Advent/Christmas Calendar

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Advent/Christmas Calendar

Sustainable Change Calendar of Hope

A Calendar for Advent and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Easily adaptable for any year, anytime. (The Bible readings are for liturgical cycle C; the dates are for year 2000.)

Oct. 1 or Nov. 1 - At a family meeting talk about Christmas expectations. What do each of us really want? Who is going to do what? What is really most meaningful? Are we willing to spend less on ourselves and give more to the needy? Write down and post decisions and changes to consider.

Friday, Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving Day (USA) - Participate in International Buy Nothing Day on this, the biggest shopping day of the year, by doing no shopping, by writing a letter to the editor promoting sustainability or by mocking overconsumption with street theater. Information at 800-663-1243.

Dec. 2 - Advent Eve. The three steps of Simpler Living (and social change) are: changing ourselves, helping others, and working to move systems -- like businesses and governments --toward sustainability. Influencing others begins with ourselves!

Ask, "Where do I fit in the three levels of participation with our culture?" The answer may be "all three."

To begin, while contemplating the following points, focus on at least one suggestion from each of the three groups - ourselves, others and systems.


Ways to Change Ourselves:

Day 1: Dec. 3, 1st Sunday in Advent* (Jer. 33:14-16; 1 Thess. 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36)
  1. Prioritize changes we need to make, including both "big" and "little" changes. Do not allow tokenism - doing only small stuff, like recycling, and ignoring the hard changes, like reducing our dependence on our cars. Likewise, do little stuff to keep a consciousness, otherwise the big changes may overwhelm us. It feels good to say, "Look at all the changes I've made!" But it's tokenism if they're all small stuff. Help: "Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices" and "The Joy of Simple Living."

Day 2: Dec. 4 -
  2. Change celebrations. They're role models for what we'd like the rest of life to be. Extravagant or simple? Many of them damage our Earth and promote reckless spending. Instead, focus on joy, relationships and meaning. Help: "To Celebrate" or "Treasury of Celebrations," "Unplug the Christmas Machine"

Day 3: Dec. 5 -
  3. Tend to our spiritual health. Pray, meditate, spiritualize life. These are the values supporting our efforts. Without a strong religious or philosophical foundation, our changes will be meaningless.

Day 4: Dec. 6 -
  4. Tend to our mental and intellectual health through continuing education, assertiveness training, journaling. Read about politics and economics, but avoid media overload by turning off the TV and reducing unhelpful, mass market magazine subscriptions. Help: "Quickening of America," "Investing in the Common Good" and "Stuff"

Day 5: Dec. 7 -
  5. Tend to our physical health. Eat correctly, exercise and have regular medical checkups. Eat locally grown organic food as much as possible, meat as little as possible.

Day 6: Dec. 8 -
  6. Touch other cultures, especially the poor, either locally or on a cross-cultural experience. Help: Ministry of Money (301/428-9560), Journey into Freedom (503/244-4728), "Children from Australia to Zimbabwe," "Extending the Table"

Day 7: Dec. 9 -
  7. Practice the 5-R's - reduce, reuse, recycle, restore, respond. Practice the "Halving Principle," cut use of stuff in half. Use water, electricity and fossil fuels wisely and conservatively. For example, use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They require only 25% of the energy that incandescent bulbs do. Help: "Use Less Stuff"

Day 8: Dec. 10, 2nd Sunday in Advent* (Mal. 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Phil. 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6)
  8. Practice gratitude. Do things that make us glad to be alive.

Day 9: Dec. 11
  9. Be in touch with nature through eco-friendly hiking and camping. Be awed by natural wonders large and small, like sunsets and compost worms.

Day 10: Dec. 12
  10. Build growing relationships with others for fun, conversation, volunteering, worshipping, celebrating. Help: "The Christmas Game," "Lifestories," "Tell Me a Tale"

Day 11: Dec. 13
  11. Slow down. Changes require prayer, thought and time. Make time for what's most important.

Day 12: Dec. 14
  12. My own way to change is....


Ways to Help Others:

Day 13: Dec. 15
  1. Set an example of "non-conforming freely" by using string or fabric shopping bags, a hand lawn mower, etc. Be a living witness. Show our own lifestyle changes. Share a subscription to a social justice magazine.

Day 14: Dec. 16
  2. Offer personal one-to-one testimonials, face-to-face, by letter or email. Speak up to adults or a child when "teachable moments" occur.

 Day 15: Dec. 17, 3rd Sunday in Advent* (Zeph. 3:14-20; Isa. 12:2-6; Phil. 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18)
  3. Practice Alternative Giving. Give more to the needy. Give Fair Trade gifts. Help: #7 of "10 Tips for Christmas"

Day 16: Dec. 18
  4. Tell others. Give talks. Show & discuss videos. Join SLOw Down Network. Help: "Simple Living 101"

Day 17: Dec. 19
  5. Lead a workshop (see #4).

Day 18: Dec. 20
  6. Organize an alternative event (see #4).

Day 19: Dec. 21
  7. Start a Study/Action Group, Simplicity Circle, lead worship or adult forum at church (see #4).

Day 20: Dec. 22
  8. Give Alternatives' gift certificates, gift resources, gift memberships. The recipients receive a catalog and can start where they want to. This makes us helpful and generous, not pushy.

Day 21: Dec. 23
  9. Send messages about overconsumption through cards, bumper stickers and the like. Help: Alternatives' "Consumo Must Go!" Campaign

Day 22: Dec. 24, 4th Sunday in Advent* (Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:47-55 or Ps. 80:1-7; Heb. 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55); Christmas Eve* (Isa. 9:2-7; Ps. 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-4, 15-20)
  10. Develop an email directory and forward messages from Alternatives and others to those in your directory. Help: "Simplicity Sp@mmer"

Day 23: Dec. 25, Christmas Day* (Isa. 52:7-10; Ps. 98; Heb. 1:1-12; John 1:1-14)
  11. Pray, "Lord, have mercy on us. May your will be done on Earth as in heaven."

Day 24: Dec. 26
  12. My own way to help others is....


Ways to Move Systems -- like businesses and governments -- Toward Sustainability:

Day 25: Dec. 27
  1. Advocacy. Write letters to public officials - local, county, state, national, international. Get addresses from your local chapter of the League of Women Voters. Help: Bread for the World, www.bread.org; "Soul of a Citizen"

Day 26: Dec. 28, The Holy Innocents* (Matt. 2:1-18)
  2. Write letters of protest to wasteful companies and send commendations to businesses working toward sustainability. Help: Business for Social Responsibility, www.bsr.org

Day 27: Dec. 29
  3. Protest and boycott. Help: "Boycott News," www.boycotts.org

Day 28: Dec. 30
  4. Vote with your dollars. Buy from locally owned businesses.

Day 29: Dec. 31, First Sunday after Christmas* (1 Sam. 2:18-20, 26; Col. 3: 12-17; Luke 2:41-52); New Year's Eve
  5. Keep informed, share ideas, join a social justice listserve, such as Center for a New American Dream, www.newdream.org.

Day 30: Jan. 1, New Year's Day (Ps. 148)
  6. Influence the media. Pass releases on to local media from Alternatives and other organizations. Help: "Reaching Out Through the Media"

Day 31: Jan. 2
  7. "Close the loop" at home, work, school, church. Buy products made of recycled materials. Help: National Green Pages, www.greenpages.org

Day 32: Jan. 3
  8. Attend meetings to oppose local sprawl.

Day 33: Jan. 4
  9. Promote media literacy. Oppose Channel One's mandatory TV commercials in schools. Help: www.medialit.org and "Culture Jam."

Day 34: Jan. 5
  10. Practice Socially Responsible Investing-SRI. Help: www.socialfunds.com

Day 35: Jan. 6, Epiphany* (Isa. 60:1-6; Ep. 3:1-12; Matt. 2:1-12)
  11. Pray for those who are in positions of power, who control systems, such as public and business officials. 12. My own way to move systems toward sustainability is....

 *Share the reflection or service in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"



If this calendar is used during Lent, use days 36-40 to review and to evaluate progress.

This calendar is adapted from the Introduction of "Simple Living 101: A Toolbook for Sharing the Joy of a Simpler Lifestyle Through Speeches, Workshops, Events, Study-Action Groups and Simplicity Circles." Read it at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Simple Living 101.

©Creative Commons (originally 2000 Alternatives for Simple Living)
This Advent/Christmas calendar is appropriate as a poster, as bulletin inserts, and in Spanish.
Make as many copies as you choose on a not-for-profit basis.

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