Advent starts immediately after Thanksgiving; so does all the hoopla of Christmas shopping.
Growing up I was blessed to be part of a traditional yet wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. First my family would go to church in the morning, sing hymns, and offer prayers of thanks to God. Then we would come home for the fantastic meal of turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, fresh-baked rolls and all the goods. Then after the meal we would take a break, either play a family board game or watch a football game before we ate the most delicious pumpkin pie. It was a wonderful, joy-filled day.
But it all changed when I entered Junior High. Oh we still had the church service, and the huge delicious family meal. We would still take a break prior to the pie. But instead of playing a board game or watching football, I had work to do.
I had an afternoon paper route for the local paper.
Normally my five mile route was manageable on my bicycle; the paper was only 24 to 32 pages and fairly light and the total load of 100 plus papers was not overwhelming.
But on Thanksgiving day, that all changed. The paper always swelled to over 100 pages due to all the advertisements. Every store in town had ads or inserts for the biggest shopping day of the year: The Friday after Thanksgiving; Black Friday.
But did I care about all those ads? Not a bit, since it only made folding and delivering my 100 plus papers so difficult. I grew to hate all the advertising hoopla that kicked off the Christmas Shopping frenzy. As I made the trek around the neighborhood, I wondered what all that shopping frenzy actually bought?
On average, each American spends over $700 on Christmas presents. That is nearly 200 billion dollars. The next question: What is one gift you remember getting for Christmas last year? Next question: what about the fourth gift? Do you remember that one? Truth is many of us don’t remember because it wasn’t something we necessarily wanted or needed.
Advent Conspiracy challenges us to rethink our Christmas shopping frenzy. Spending Less is not a call to stop giving gifts, it’s a call to stop spending money on gifts we won’t remember in less than a year. So much of our spending goes right onto a credit card which adds a new stress when January’s bill rolls around. By Spending Less, or spending wisely on gifts we free ourselves from the anxiety associated with debt so we can take in the season with a full heart.
Spending Less is an invitation to reconsider what (or who) is at the heart of Christmas. Jesus came into the world to give us life: vibrant, faith-filled life. He did not come to make sure there was large pile of presents under the Christmas tree. He came to set us free, even from the dangers of rampant consumerism.
What would Spending Less look like in your home?
Lord Jesus, help me to keep my focus on you, even as I take out my credit card.