This year my church is participating in The Advent Conspiracy, a movement started by a group of pastors from Oregon to reduce the commercialism of the Christmas season and bring it back to it's original intention, celebrating the birth of Christ. I'm really very excited about this. The idea, as it says on their website, is to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all. I mean, who couldn't get behind that!
When we first had our oldest, Cheyenne, five years ago I felt kind of bad that we'd likely never have the resources to give her (and eventually her siblings) the kinds of magical, gift filled Christmases I'd had as a child. While I was deeply comitted to the idea of Simple Living at the time, Christmas had always been such a time of anticipation and wonder for me that it was one area I was reluctant to simplify.
In the end, I am a practical person, however and with Zach working construction and getting laid off shortly before Christmas each year, it didn't make sense to spend a ton of money when what we had needed to last until spring. It turned out to be the best thing for us. We've found other ways of making Christmas a magical experience for the kids, ways that don't rely on big expensive gifts.
This year, though, I want to take it further and really get into the spirit of giving. I think this fits in with my Year of Temperance quite well. I look around at everything I have and it makes me want to go out and do good for the world. I am so incredibly lucky. My kids are so incredibly lucky. We have such a beautiful, wonderful life.
During this Christmas season we want to focus our efforts on looking for need and filling it. I want us all to get into the habit of stepping up to the plate and making good things happen for others. I want us to spend more quality time as a family and more time focusing on teaching the kids about the wondrous and miraculous event that was the first Christmas.
Some of our plans:
-Make a family gift to AFINNET, a charity close to our hearts and the heart of our church. Bishop George and Father Michael who run this charity are two of the most good-hearted people I've ever met.
-Actively look for small ways to help people. Hold a door for someone. Watch the neighbor's kid for an hour while she goes to her parent-teacher conference. Visit the elderly. That kind of stuff.
-Play the Generosity Game
-Storytelling around the fireplace
-After dinner advent ceremony
-Prayer tree (I'll be blogging about this later in the week)
-No Toys in 2010 Challenge (I'll be blogging about this too)
-Lessons and Carols at our church
I think this is going to be a very fun Christmas. I have areas, like my crazy Christmas party, where I'll go all out, but for the most part I really love a more paired down holiday.