Warning: This post may offend you. Or it may bore you. Please know that this post means a lot to me, and involves a lot of emotion and passion as I share my heart with you. You may find that this post isn't up your ally, and that is completely okay by me! Some may be challenged by the content of this post, and to you I say, "Are you with me?"
Last year, I was REALLY transformed by the challenge set forth by Advent Conspiracy. I encourage you, as the Holiday season is beginning to creep up on us, to check out this website and watch the promo video. I don't want to ruin the effect of the website, so I won't lay out their agenda, but I will start by saying this idea really struck home with me: We have really lost the root of WHY we have holidays and the MEANING behind them. Somehow, we (especially as Americans) have really thrown traditional "meaning" to the wayside, and replaced the "true" meaning of the upcoming holidays (and I am including Halloween, Thanksgiving and the December Holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, etc in this category) with COMMERCIALISM. We've created an empire of money, gifts and credit card bills in the name of Celebration and Worship.
I've been really challenged to re-examine my motives for Holidays and what I REALLY want those times to be about. This is the conclusion I've personally come to:
Family, Friends, Community,
Laughing, Food, Worship
Everyone's list may vary, but those are the ideals I have come up with. Notice that I haven't added, "running up my credit card bills and closing in on bankruptcy because I am attempting to buy everyone (and their Mothers. And their Mother's Mother. And their Mother's Mother's Neighbor) the PERFECT gift. Scratch that. Gifts. More Gifts. Lots of Gifts."
I do not want the Perfect Gift (or the quantity of gifts I give) to signify my love for people. Do not get me wrong: I DO think giving gifts can be apart of love, celebration and togetherness. I think giving someone something thoughtful can be ONE way to show them I care. But when an expectation, obligation or judgement arises over such things, it ceases to be a symbol of love. It becomes an idol of Commercialism and Selfishness. (Sorry, that may be harsh, but it's true).
As I've spent time thinking through these ideas, I've come to embrace the idea of alternative and homemade gift giving. Now let me qualify this by saying I DO buy gifts. Sometimes the best way to show someone I love them is by giving them something they could not otherwise give themselves. But I do not just default to buying gifts. I've realized how, for so long, I just stocked up on "impressive" gifts because...I needed to give gifts. As I re-examined over the past year, I had 2 realizations:
1) My gift giving had become IMPERSONAL.
2)I wasted a lot of MONEY on impersonal, meaningless gifts.
So, analyzing the above 2 realizations, I concluded 2 more things:
1) I can give THOUGHTFUL and PERSONAL gifts to those I love.
2) I can be mindful that MONEY does not give a gift worth, and that I can put the money I would otherwise be spending on gifts toward a better cause.
While I am grateful for the change in mind (and heart), I only regret having come across these ideas too late to impact my last Holiday season. That said, I want to really make this Holiday Season count.
So, I will be posting different thoughts on celebrating holidays and ideas for personal, unique, alternative and handmade/homemade gifts on this blog. Starting NEXT WEEK, I will share a post EVERY WEDNESDAY until the end of December. I have a bunch of ideas running through my head: ways to save money (and in turn, enabling you to have money to give to a good cause), rethinking traditional gifts, crafts for kids to make and give as gifts, new ways to celebrate all the upcoming holidays, ways to encourage others and TONS of project ideas!
Friends, I am embarking on an adventure: Rethinking Holidays, and all that comes with it. I am vowing to celebrate and love DIFFERENTLY this Holiday season.
Are you with me?
If you are at all moved, encouraged or challenged to do the same, then I invite you to join me on this journey. I welcome you to share your thoughts, struggles, ideas and creativity on this blog. START NOW: leave a comment signifying that you will be joining me on this adventure, and share how YOU want to change your heart (and holiday and gift-giving perspective) as well!
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas over the next few weeks.
Until next Wednesday,