Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Attempting a "Buy Nothing Christmas"

key word in the title: "ATTEMPT".

Okay so Christmas is "the season for giving". Well...if it's the season for giving then it's also the season for "getting", right? Because whatever you give, someone else is going to get. I know...this is deep stuff. ha. But herein lies the problem for me. (I may step on some toes here, so I apologize in advance...but I'm not really sorry about it:) 

If you've followed previous blogs, you've likely noticed that I have been experiencing some deep conviction over the past few months about the way I spend my money. So when Christmastime rolled around, I was feeling some major battling happening within. There's definitely plenty of Scriptures that call us to show restraint and not hoard goods. If we truly care about the poor and the needy, it's really hard to justify over-indulgence as our neighbors - our family - starve. 

So at Christmas, we're celebrating the birth of a man who had much to say against materialism and hoarding riches...and ironically we celebrate his birth by - and this may be strong - but basically over-indulging in materialism. Seems a little off, right? And interestingly, it's pretty easy to excuse it away by saying it's all about "giving". By the way, I'm not trying to point fingers here...I'm pointing this finger right at myself!!!

So this year, I started looking into this concept of a "Buy Nothing Christmas". There were some interesting devos and such on the website...this was on one of the devos:

We have enough, and to keep adding to our pile not only takes up resources that could go to the poor but also has a devastating impact on the environment. If everyone consumed according to North American standards, the Earth would be completely stripped of its resources in short order. We cannot love God if we do not love and treat with reverence the world that God created.

Ultimately, we must remember that with his life and teachings, Jesus contracted dramatically with his surrounding culture. Christians are called to live in similar opposition to the norms and assumptions of their society. Thus, in a culture marked so heavily by acquisition and consumption, following Christ's example means living simply and aspiring for attitude of “enough.”

Dang. Ouch.

So this "Buy Nothing Christmas" concept sounds like such an awesome idea, but it definitely proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated. Because here's the deal: it's super hard (if not, impossible) to convince your friends/family to not spend money on you. Or just to give donations in lieu of gifts. Because apparently that takes the "joy" out of their giving something. Then on the flip side, if I were to not buy actual gifts for friends and family, I'm just the cheap friend/family member or the one who didn't want to make an effort to go find a cool gift. So I had to come up with some alternatives and here are a few that I found:
  • Making gifts! I have loved getting to do this. Yes, it did require the purchasing of some materials, but I have enjoyed getting to make quite a few of the gifts I'm giving this year. Of course, I didn't think about the potential stress/time factor of making said gifts, but it's so much more fun than dealing with that horrific mall in December.
  • Ten Thousand Villages - There's a store in Green Hills that sells items from third world countries. They work with artisan groups in more than 38 countries to bring fair trade jewelry, home items, etc. here to sell. Awesome stuff!! And so much more fun to tell someone that their gift was hand-made in Kenya or Guatemala and the money is going straight back to those who made it!
So this was my attempt to be a little more conscious this Christmas...I definitely didn't succeed at "buying nothing", but it proved to be so much more fun! 

1 comment:

Erin Faubus said...

You have such a good attitude about things like this! I could stand to have a buy nothing Christmas myself. Todd and I don't buy each other anything (or at least for the past two years we haven't). It just feels so silly for us to spend money on each other when we have everything we need, and our money comes from the same place. We have pledged to just make each other gifts for every major gift-giving holiday...which meant that I got a white t-shirt written on with a black sharpie for our anniversary. So romantic! haha, sorry for the extra long comment - Merry Christmas!