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Friday, December 9, 2011

hectic holidays

Why is it that this time of year feels packed full of to-dos more than any other?  There are obligations around every corner, whether it's gifts to buy, goodies to make or decorating to be done.  We don't have any children and my husband is a full-time student, yet we have a full calendar this month  ((I can't imagine what it would be like if we had a kid or two)).  Between the two of us, there are decorations to be made for a church Christmas program, cookies to be baked for parties we'll attend, and cards to send to the many family and friends we won't see during the Christmas season ((I'm not even counting the gifts to give and decorations for our home)).
Two thousand years ago, it wasn't like that.  One of my favorite lines from a Christmas song proclaims, "the world in solemn stillness lay..." a stark contrast to the American world we live in.  The first Christmas came about without all the commitments we have.  Our Savior was born in a humble stable of all places; only shepherds came to worship him that night.

Looking at these contrasting images: one of the 21st century hustle bustle and the other in a quiet stable, I am left to wonder how should it be?  Does the busy-ness of life bring glory to the babe born in a manger?  How does gift-giving fit into a tradition meant to celebrate the birth of our Savior?

This season, we don't have much to offer with our current financial state.  And so it's allowed me to consider the things we can do without.  We don't have to spend money on a tree to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Pretty stockings and a nicely decorated mantle don't make me or even help me worship better.  So, we're making intentional changes this season.  We are spending less, not simply because we have less, but because our culture has gotten caught up in spending ridiculous amounts on things we don't actually need.  By ridiculous amounts I mean Americans spend $450 billion this time of year.  The Advent Conspiracy calls us to celebrate Christmas in a different way: worship fully, spend less, give more and love all.
Earlier this week, I was feeling overwhelmed with Christmas cards, knowing we didn't have the money to send them per usual.  I decided to try a different approach and searched for a free electronic card I could send to our family and friends spread across the country.  Within 30 minutes, I had custom edited a card announcing our change of address since moving last spring, merged it with my gmail contacts and sent it.  Thanks to Punchbowl, I had taken care of a seemingly stressful situation rather quickly.  It allowed me to spend less and give more since I sent it to people I may not have spent postage on.  The next day, I came across how one blogger has given up sending Christmas cards all together in an effort to enjoy a peaceful, guilt-free holiday season.  No matter how you choose to simplify, the important thing is making a change that draws you closer to what Advent is really about: remembering the coming of Jesus.

How are you spending this Advent season?  

P.S. I'm guest posting at Rouge & Whimsy today with a Handmade Guys' Gift Guide ((it's okay to spend a little...most items under $50)) so check it out!


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