Friday, September 12, 2008
I didn't write this, but it reflects what I am thinking and, it took a lot less time than writing it myself. So I saved time, and time is money, and a penny saved is a penny earned, so I just made myself some money.
Anyway, Joe and I have embraced a similar philosophy to this couple and we are working on people's Christmas presents as I write. (Really, these preserves on my stove will end up in some family members stocking come December.)
Here's the article-
A Simple Christmas: Learning something new by buying nothing new.
by Amy Ard
In the past, the bulk of my Christmas shopping has usually been done between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve. There’s something about waking up on the day before Christmas in a sheer panic that propels me straight into the open arms of every electronics, sporting goods, and department store within a 10-mile radius. While my family spends the morning sipping coffee, making red velvet cake, and cutting intricate little gift tags, I’ve spent the day with folks I’ve come to recognize as my extended family—a dysfunctional, wild-eyed bunch with a procrastination problem.
This year, however, will be different. Last January my husband and I embarked on an adventure inspired by newspaper coverage of the Buy-Nothing-New Year covenant groups forming across the country. Together with a few friends from work, we agreed to spend an entire year living more simply by not buying anything new, with exceptions made for consumables (food, toilet paper, etc.), replacement parts such as water filters, and intangible services such as a night at the theater. We’ve found the best thrift stores, traded items with friends, and managed to give birth to our first child without ever stepping foot in a Babies “R” Us.
I’ve never been particularly good at sticking to spiritual disciplines, but I’ve come to recognize this year of living simply as a kind of living prayer. When I toss the catalogs that inevitably appear in my mailbox into the recycle bin, I feel spiritually liberated. I’ve come to cherish the feeling of having enough, of not needing or wanting more stuff.
But my spiritual journey met a serious roadblock when it came time to think about what other people might expect from me at Christmas. Just because I had stopped buying new things didn’t mean that the rest of my friends and family would be thrilled to receive thrift-store hand-me-downs. In the back of my mind, December loomed large.
IN MARCH I really started to worry. If I was going to take up a craft, like knitting, I needed to learn pretty fast in order to make everyone a sweater in time. But I’ve never been a very artsy person. So in September, two hours into a 10-hour road trip, I told my husband we needed to get serious about the Christmas gift situation. Without the safety net of department stores and their aisles of over-packaged goods, I was at a total loss for how to manage.
We spent the next few hours making our way through the list of people close to us. We talked about the things they like to do in their spare time: My brother loves going to see plays in Atlanta; Michael’s sister is an avid underwater photographer. These conversations led us to talk about the kind of people they are. For example, I love my brother’s comedic timing and his ability to create characters that entertain us all. As Christa’s photographs reflect, she is passionate about animals and protecting their environment. I was shocked at how easy it was to think of gifts for everyone—theater tickets, yoga classes, antique photographs, gift certificates to a local farmers’ market—gifts that actually fit their interests and personalities, without requiring a trip to any big-box store.
My gifts this year won’t be extravagant. For the first time in many years, however, they will be purchased used (or traded, made, or cooked) before Dec. 24. I hope that each one will reflect the time I’ve spent thinking about each person and the qualities in them that are so inspiring. On Christmas Eve I’ll wake up, sip some coffee with my baby on my knee, and say a little prayer for my extended “family” out panicking at the malls. Later that evening, as I stand and sing “silent night, holy night,” I’ll be free from the distraction of gifts still to wrap—and the words “all is calm” will take on a whole new meaning.
Amy Ard, a former Sojourners organizer, lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her 5-month-old daughter and husband.
And now for what I have to say:
Because we all have enough stuff. And sometimes when I am in WalMart, I feel like Charlie Brown, that it is all a big commercial racket. And, "I have to spend at least $XOXO.OO dollars because that's what they usually spend on us" is a really stupid thing to think about. So, we are trying something new and buying nothing new. And, we don't expect anything new either. Like I said, we all have more than enough stuff. So, to quote the darling little Linus, (and umm, Luke):
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes; lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavnly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And that is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.