23 November 2010

Gateway to Christmas: Is it Thanksgiving or Is it Black Friday?

When I started this post, it started out, "Only 80 "shopping days" until Christmas"... then I worked on it when there were "Only 50 "shopping days" until Christmas"... Now, here we are ~ almost 30 days until Christmas and I still haven't published it.  Why?  Because every time I try to write about spending less this Christmas, I get writers' block and head over to Amazon.com to work on my wishlist.  The irony of it all has me thinking I have no right to write this.  ... but, since it's on my heart, here goes:

"Only 30 "shopping days" until Christmas."  
How many years have we counted down like that?  not counted down to the celebration of WHO Christmas is all about (and I'm not talking about the children), but counted down the time remaining to purchase that extra special something for each family member, friend, "secret Santa", and that darn neighbor that brings a nasty loaf of fruit bread every year.  Only 50 30 more days to figure out who to regift that to this year! 

The last few years, our family has attempted to celebrate a little differently than the masses.  Maybe it started with the Advent Conspiracy or maybe it was something else.  Last year, right before Christmas, I decided we didn't have "enough" gifts for certain people and ended up at the mall - defeated by consumerism, marketing geniuses, and my desire for guilt-free retail therapy.  Whatever it was, this year, I am determined.  Christmas WILL BE different.  Maybe just by default.  Our Christmas decorations are in the very back of an over stuffed 10'X20'X10' metal box at "Total Storage" and we are trying to save for a new front load washer & dryer.  

So how are we making this year different?  

  • We decided months ago that we would shop garage sales and thrift shops for some of our gifts and then personalize them.  Not so easy if your kids are older, but ours are 1 and 3 ~ they don't yet appreciate the thrill of a gazillion little zip ties or plastic clam shell packaging that is so impossible to remove someone invented a special tool just to open it.
  • We set a price limit on how much we spend on each other.  We do this every year, but this year, we are working a little harder to stick to it.. (and yes, Sweet Husband, if you are reading this.. that includes Shipping & Handling!)  :)  
  • We look for things to give that are outside of our immediate family, things like livestock from the World Vision Gift Catalouge.  (Hey Mom, would you like another goat for your herd?  This one is cared for by a family overseas and it not only helps to support this family, but eventually, an entire community.  You don't even have to give it shots or trim its hooves!)
  • I'd like to say we'll take our girls to the Samaritan Community Center or somewhere similar to serve a meal to someone less fortunate than us, maybe we'll do this as Tiny & the Tot get older.  One year, we baked cookies and drove all over town delivering them to some senior adults that we knew were home alone on Christmas.  It's still one of my favourite Christmas memories of all time.  I really want my girls to understand that it is a blessing to be able to give to others.  
In my mind, Thanksgiving is a gateway to Christmas.  We start the season out thanking God for all that He has provided: family, friends, a comfy place to sleep, obscene amounts of food, warm clothing, our Salvation!!!  But is Thanksgiving really the beginning of the Christmas Season? or is Black Friday the beginning of the Christmas Season?  It seems to me, we've reduced this day of gratitude to a weekend of accumulation.

Don't get me wrong.  It will take every ounce of willpower for this hypocrite to avoid the crowds on Friday, even though the things on my shopping list don't really fit the Black Friday mold.  By "Cyber Monday," I could really go nuts and fall off the celebrate-differently-this-year wagon.  Who can resist a great deal? with free shipping?!  Shopping in your jammies!  Hello?  Does it get any easier than that?  No stroller, no diaper bag, no nagging, no fighting for parking.  I love it!  

Wait, wait, wait.. back to reality.  Back to my point.  

What was my point?  Oh yeah.  The accumulation of more stuff.  An 8 month sabbatical from 2000 cubic feet (that's 10'X20'X10' for the mathematically challenged) of our lives makes me wonder how much we really need.  In two months, we'll be moving from Duplex Alley to our new home and I really don't want to haul more clutter along with us.  The girls already ignore most of their toys.  Why, oh why, would we waste money on more junk? 

As I stumble though this post, I find myself yet again toggling back and forth between my blog and my Amazon wishlist.  Maybe this Christmas won't be as different as I think it should be.  We'll do our best not to get out of control, because I can't let a "good deal" sucker me into conforming to my culture.  It's not that I believe "things" are bad (except for that fruitcake I mentioned earlier), it's just that I get frustrated with myself because I spend more time thinking of all the things I want than thinking about all the things God desires.  Again, I'm stuck wondering what that says about me as a Christian.  It makes me wonder whose life am I really celebrating on December 25th.  ~ It's Plain & Simple As That  


  1. Omg What a wonderful little blog. Thanks for putting your time and effort into this. You are a talented writer. Very entertaining. I have to wonder who you may have influenced with this.

  2. You have made my day. Thank you for your kind words :)