Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

I'm driving my family crazy.

I taught a Living Simply: Advent & Christmas Sunday school class over 3 weeks at the end of October and into November and now I am trying to practice what I taught. My family is hoping I never teach a class on why Jesus didn't like beer or ice cream (for the record, I would never teach that class).

Leaving my family out of it, what I tend to do is run out of time to be creative and so I spend a lot of money by default on Christmas presents that are usually fun but not always practical (Guitar Hero for the couple about to welcome a newborn? Duh). I also have realized that the most precious commodity for me is time - it's the one thing we can't get back - and since it is our year to have my sister, brother-in-law, and their munchkin with us for a week during the holidays I would rather spend time with them and with my Mom and my son than just about any other gift you could get me (unless you were going to get me a pick-up truck, but that is a post for another day).

And then there is this....



There is something to this.
$450 billion spent on Christmas, an estimated $10 billion to improve everyone's water supply?
I'm pretty sure I am not the only one who would rather be a part of the $10 billion solution, rather than the $450 billion problem.

In previous years I have made something for the deacons and the elders. More than once this meant baking until the very early hours.
In December.
Not smart.

In the last couple of years I bought ornaments at Ten Thousand Villages for everyone. It cut down on the hours I was putting into the baking and the feeling I always had that probably up to half of my efforts were thrown out because I know I cannot keep up with all of the food goodies that are brought to me during the holidays.

Now I have a bigger board of Deacons and a Session 3x the size so I'm going to buy an animal through Heifer International in their names and give them a gift card letting them know.

It's not $10 billion in fresh water, but it's something.

As for my family I am trying to be creative and not in a 'look I made you a sock puppet' way but more of a 'I really put a lot of thought into this' way.
The good news is I have a plan and it is starting to come together. But I think one or two of them may read this blog so the unveiling will have to wait.

What are some creative ways you have of not getting caught in the trappings of Christmas?

9 comments:

Songbird said...

If we're supposed to give gifts to Elders/Deacons and Session/Council Members, that is a chapter in the rulebook I missed. Are you buying one animal for the whole board? Because I understand you're trying to simplify, and I love Heifer, but that sounds like a huge outlay of money if it's individual animals.

reverendmother said...

My former colleague used to give bags of pecans from Koinonia Farms to the staff, deacons and elders. I never thought of it as a rule, but something nice I hoped to duplicate some year. This is the year and I have had fun thinking about possibilities.

Kathryn, I suggest a gaggle of geese for your session :-)

Kathrynzj said...

Good points, Songbird. What I did was approximate the amount of money I would spend per person on either ingredients or an ornament, multiplied it by the amount of people on our board and bought an animal near that figure. In this case, a goat.

There are no rules for giving to the board, but volunteering in a church often involves a lot of 'please, please, please...' with minimal 'thank you, thank you, thank you...' This is one of the ways I say thank you.

The key is not to go overboard with a trinket to tell them that is what I did. For instance, buying a goat ornament to put a label on it to say I bought a goat defeats the purpose.

sherry said...

I have given Heifer Animals as gifts to teachers, friends, family and everyone except my kids for many many years.

I calculate what my budget for Christmas is and spend that on one animal.

Then I give the wonderful card that HPI sends to each person telling them that for Christmas this year, "they have been named as the giver of a part of a cow to a family in ....country"

I add to the card that they are welcome to decide for themselves exactly what anatomical portion of the cow they represent. Good for some laughs.

Teachers love it, friends love it, in laws hate it and think I am selfish. Win/Win all around. :)

As far as my kids: We started limiting Christmas to THREE presents when my now 13 year old was in kindergarten. (3 nice presents, no junk, no underwear)

At the time we told them, "if it is good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for you"....to which my kindergartner said/cried, "But, I'm NOT JESUS"

After 7 years of doing all of the above, Christmas is now more manageable and even sort of pleasant.

zorra said...

The Scientist and I, and his sister, all participate in Angel Trees at our respective churches,and choose an extra "angel" in honor of one another. Wish we could do that with my mother-in-law too, but oh well.
I love getting Heifer gifts--loved it when one of my colleagues gave me a beehive.

(reverendmother--hee hee)

reverendmother said...

"in laws hate it and think I am selfish."

~boggle~

Kathrynzj said...

In-laws... for me that would not just be another post, but another blog all together. I'll just say that in my mind heaven has a time-out bench just outside nirvana and they are still sitting on it thinking about what they did.

Sherry, my SS class talked about the 3 gifts. A lot of families had shifted to that and had made that choice when they realized their kids would only play with/wear three things anyway. The 3 wise men is an excellent place to start.

My kid knows he is getting one this year and it is spelled:
D-I-S-N-E-Y.

Kathrynzj said...

In-laws... for me that would not just be another post, but another blog all together. I'll just say that in my mind heaven has a time-out bench just outside nirvana and they are still sitting on it thinking about what they did.

Sherry, my SS class talked about the 3 gifts. A lot of families had shifted to that and had made that choice when they realized their kids would only play with/wear three things anyway. The 3 wise men is an excellent place to start.

My kid knows he is getting one this year and it is spelled:
D-I-S-N-E-Y.

zorra said...

I totally get the "in laws hate it and think I am selfish". In one breath my MIL talks about how much she "hates Christmas", referring to the pressure of buying gifts and spending money, and in the next she tells us that our preference for exchanging acknowledgements of Heifer or Angel Tree gifts deprives her of "the joy of Christmas".
Thanks for letting me vent.