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Archives: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? #17
Gentle, Faithful Steps Toward a Simpler Christmas
Calendar for Advent and Christmas [cycle A]
Whether we stroll, jog or sprint into Simpler Living, for best results we do it every day -- persistently, faithfully, joyfully.
Instead of stressing and fretting over stuff, we will focus on the joy of meeting the real needs of others and ourselves. This year we pledge not to be distracted by advertising from our holy days (or holydays or holy-days).
As a family, we will investigate worthwhile causes and organizations to support with money we collect. We'll choose a percentage early in the season (from 25% to 100%). Then we'll give that amount every time we spend any money for Christmas (even if it's for food, decorations, etc.) ... in addition to the amount we normally give away. We'll decorate a can to hold the money and put it on display. 20 bucks on a tree? Then $ __ goes in the can. Giving money is not a penalty. It helps our need to help others. We'll donate the money on Epiphany, the day the Magi offered their gifts to Jesus.
In advance, order a Christmas Campaign Kit.
Oct. 1 - Nov. 1 - Call a family meeting to talk about Christmas expectations. Use "Let's Talk about Christmas" from the Christmas Campaign Kit at the meeting. 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 the decisions and changes.
Oct. 24 - Participate in Take Back Your Time Day. Visit TimeDay.org Slow down. Changes require prayer, thought and time. Make time for what's most important.
Nov. 25 - Thanksgiving Day (USA). We can celebrate and show gratitude without gluttony. God's generosity invites us to share, not to waste food or to overindulge.
Nov. 26 - Participate in International Buy Nothing Day on this, the biggest shopping day of the year, by doing no shopping and by writing a letter to the editor promoting sustainability. Visit www.Adbuster.org or call 800-663-1243.
The average North American consumes five times more than a person in Mexico, ten times more than a person in China and thirty times more than a person in India. We are the most voracious consumers in the world... a world that could die because of the way we North Americans live. Give it a rest. Buy Nothing Day!
Nov. 27 - Advent Eve. Familiarize yourself with Alternatives' Christmas Campaign Kit. Parts of it will be useful throughout Advent.
Nov. 28 - Advent I. Read and meditate on Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24: 36-44. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"*
Nov. 29 - The word advent means "a coming." Pray, "O God, may I be watchful for the ways in which Jesus comes to me this week. Amen."
Nov. 30 - If you put your tree up before Christmas Eve, leave it bare for several days. Then add one decoration per day so it is finished on Christmas Eve. Give $1 for each day your tree is up before Christmas.
December 1 - "Learn from the World Community" - one of the life standards of the voluntary simplicity movement - can be modeled by adopting customs or wearing clothing and jewelry from developing countries. Encourage singing some songs from Africa or Latin America in church.
Dec. 2 - Consider singing a song every night at dinner. Get song books from church or library or get "Carols with Justice" from Alternatives.
Dec. 3 - Let your outdoor decorating reflect your beliefs. Make your own simple but visible display using Earth-friendly materials. Highlight an empty manger with white lights. On Christmas Eve add Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the shepherds and angels. Add the magi closer to Epiphany. Or hang a large banner of the dove of peace.
Dec. 4 - Start a family service tradition - caroling, making bread or gingerbread houses for the lonely, or serving at the soup kitchen.
Dec. 5 - Advent II. Read and meditate on Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"*
Dec. 6 - Today is Saint Nicholas Day. To learn more about the story of Bishop Nicholas, visit www.StNicholasCenter.org
Dec. 7 - Instead of buying gifts for friends, invite them to a potluck or a no-host dinner at a restaurant. Being together is more important than getting and giving more stuff.
Dec. 8 - There's enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed.-Gandhi
Dec. 9 - Offer alternatives for gift-giving. Write a letter to family & friends sharing your feelings about Christmas giving. Suggest gifts you would like to receive (i.e., a donation to a soup kitchen; a gift of their time).
Dec. 10 - One's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. -from Luke 12:13-34.
Dec. 11 - Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need. -Proverbs 30:7-9.
Dec. 12 - Advent III. Read and meditate on Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:47-55; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11: 2-11. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"*
Dec. 12 - Today in Mexico people celebrate the festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the early 1500s Mary appeared to a peasant on his way to mass. Poor people saw this as a sign of their worth. Where do you search for self-worth?
Dec. 13 - Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? -Matthew 6:24-33.
Dec. 14 - We spend more on pet food in the U.S. and Europe than it would take to provide adequate nutrition and basic health care to the more than one billion people on the planet who lack these necessities. Give $1 for each dollar you spend on your pets.
Dec. 15 - You can never get enough of what you don't really need. -attr. to Alan Watts
Dec. 16 - Make a list of the disposable products you use: razors, plastic bottles, diapers and the like. Next to each item write an alternative product you can use which is more ecologically sound.
Dec. 17 - The price of anything is the amount of life you pay for it.--Henry David Thoreau
Dec. 18 - Current paper recycling efforts save over 200 million trees each year. Give 50˘ for every Christmas card you send which is not printed on recycled paper.
Dec. 19 - Advent IV. Read and meditate on Isaiah 7:10-16; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"*
Dec. 20 - Watch for a chance to discuss "needs" and "wants" with a child. What role does TV play in a child's definitions of "need"? Give 25˘ for every toy commercial you see today.
Dec. 21 - Live simply that others may simply live. -Gandhi
Dec. 22 - Children can have difficulty understanding how they can "make this a better world." Fill a box with written suggestions: "Read a story to your brother;" "Collect aluminum cans to recycle," etc.
Dec. 23 - The nation that destroys its soil - destroys itself. -Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve. Read and meditate on Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14 (15-20). Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"*
Dec. 25 - Christmas Day. Read and meditate at dawn on Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2: (1-7) 8-20. Later in the day, read & meditate on Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12); John 1:1-14.
CHRISTMAS DOES NOT END ON DECEMBER 25th! In fact, the 12 days of Christmas are just beginning. The great festival of Epiphany is not far off. Continue your Christmas journey and joyous celebration.
Dec. 26 - St. Stephen's Day or Boxing Day. Read Acts 6:8-8:2. Many people give boxes filled with gifts to the poor. Collect good used clothing, toys and books for those in need.
Dec. 27 - Consider celebrating the African-American tradition of Kwaanza (Dec. 26th-Jan.1) to emphasize community and family, regardless of your race.
Dec. 28 - The Holy Innocents. Read and meditate on Jeremiah 31: 15-17; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Matthew 2:13-18. Due to Herod's wrath, the Holy Family became refugees. There are 12 million refugees in the world. Write down reasons why people become refugees (war, poverty, etc.). Give 5˘ for each.
Dec. 29 - Make a New Year's resolution tree. Place the end of a bare branch in an empty can and fill the can with dirt or newspaper. As you think of resolutions or hopes, write them down on slips of different colored paper and tape the slips to the branch.
Dec. 30 - Christmas I (Holy Family Sunday). Read and meditate on Isaiah 63:7-9; Hebrews 2:10-18; Matthew 2:13-23. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"*
Dec. 31 - New Year's Eve. Celebrate at a locally-owned (preferably ethnic) restaurant. Participate in a non-alcoholic First Night's Eve.
January 1 - New Year's Day. On a piece of paper write down three regrets or anxieties from 2004. Tear the paper into small pieces and throw them in the air like confetti. Pray, thanking God for new beginnings.
Jan. 2 - Think back on the events of the past year. What are the three words that best reflect your life this past year? Give 25˘ for each.
Jan. 3 - We CAN do something about water pollution. Stop using toxins on lawns. Never pour oil or antifreeze into a sewer. Dispose of paints & batteries at a local toxic waste clean-up day.
Jan. 4 - Use and support alternative media, such as Sojourners magazine, Free Speech TV (DISH Channel 9415), NOW with Bill Moyers (PBS) and Living on Earth (NPR). Beware of talk show hosts - entertainers posing as social commentators - who inflame prejudice with misinformation.
Jan. 5 - Spend 15 minutes of silence envisioning nations flowing to the mountain of the house of God . . . beating their swords into plowshares . . . their spears into pruning hooks. Draw a picture of your vision.
Jan. 6 - Epiphany. Read & meditate on Matt. 2:1-12; Ep. 3:1-12. Share the reflection for this day in "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"* Discuss your plans for the coming year, including next Advent and Christmas.
On Epiphany, the magi brought gifts to Jesus. Like the magi, offer the money you have been saving to the cause of your choice with a personal visit, if possible; or accompanied by a letter of encouragement.
To celebrate Alternatives' 30th Anniversary, this guide is adapted from previous Advent-Christmas calendars (cycle A) - Spirit of Simplicity 2001, A Simpler Season 1998, Which Way to Bethlehem? 1995, and Waiting for the Light 1992.
*If you don't already have a copy of this year's "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" read it at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Whose Birthday?
To read previous calendar "Yes! to Jesus & Joy / No! to Stress & Stuff" (best of cycle C) visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> 2003 Advent Calendar.
The bulk of Alternatives' past resources, including 40-day guides, are available on CD-ROM "Simply the Best: Over 30 Years of Alternatives." Also visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives.
Other Advent-Christmas calendars:• Giving Options: SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Advent/Christmas Calendars >> General - Birthday Gift for Jesus • Interesting, Timely Articles to Read on the Web: SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Advent/Christmas Calendars: e-Treasures
For a list of other valuable web sites, visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Lent Calendar 2003 and SimpleLivingWorks.org >> About Us >> Links
İCreative Commons (originally 2004 Alternatives for Simple Living). Make as many copies as you choose on a not-for-profit basis.
This Advent/Christmas calendar - based on liturgical Cycle A (Matthew) - is appropriate as bulletin inserts and in Spanish in Adviento 2004. Download the text here.
Page updated 21 Nov. 2013
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