Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light…. Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity.
It is a shame some of the value of his sentiments were lost in the glitter and wealth of his clothes and setting. Of course nearly anybody in the West (myself included) talking about sustainability and simplicity does appear to be a bit incongruous.
Talking of incongruous, we ended Christmas day by watching The Story of Stuff. We had counted that between the four of us we had received around 70 things (most of them quite little – e.g., there were 10 pairs of socks) and we thought we needed to remind ourselves about the importance of trying to reduce the stuff we collect.
We did try to modify our Christmas buying this year – honest – by thinking about how we could be a bit more socially responsible (although we have a long way to go). Some of the things we did included:
- We bought presents from the Oxfam shop for a group of friends we see each year (and we have come to an agreement to stop buying presents from now on).
- We tried to avoid the big retails as much as possible (e.g., we bought some books from MacLeans bookshop – a great independent bookshop in Hamilton)
- We draw names of hats for Cathy’s sisters, their partners and my brother and each of us bought a present for one person
- We did the same thing with the girls’ Australian cousins
- We don’t go overboard (I guess that depends on who we compare ourselves with) with presents for the girls. We gave them an early present of tickets to Mary Poppins and then “Santa” gave them a range of smaller presents – including some books, things they needed anyway (hmm – define “needed”) like socks, undies and a clarinet/flute stand, and a few fun things too
- I bought Cathy “Childhood Under Siege: How big business ruthlessly targets children” and tickets to a play, and Cathy bought me a backpack for work and a voucher for some music
- We gave Mum and Dad some books and a voucher saying we will give them a home delivered meal once a week.
I don’t pretend that we had a simple Christmas, but at least we are heading in the right direction. Increasingly we are trying to buy from independent local shops, we look for fair trade products, and think about the environmental impact. It is a challenge as we grew up shopping based on price (Why buy from a little bookshop when you can buy it for cheaper from a big chain store?) but we are slowly retraining ourselves.