Christmas is always the one time of the year that brings joy to people. Well, some people.
Which is why i want to invite you to join with me and others in rethinking Christmas.
Let’s be completely intentional and creative in the way we celebrate Christmas this year.
And let’s do it in a way that reaches more people and causes a lot less waste.
How often has Christmas become that pressure of having to buy all the things for all the people and not know what this one wants and so getting them that thing that…
One idea for you this year is to join us in Jólabókaflóð – the Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition of buying a book for each other and spending the evening reading together. [phonetic pronunciation is yo-la-bok-a-flot]
That was the inspiration for tbV [the beautiful Val] and myself switching up our Christmas presents vibe two years ago. We now commit to each buying a book for each other and we buy a board game together [board games form a huge part of our hospitality and hang out vibes with friends during the year].
Beyond that, within Val’s family we each draw a name out of a hat and buy/create a gift for one other person [instead of buying for ten to twelve people] with a price limit on it so it has to be more thoughtful and specific to that person than bank-breaking. This cuts down expense and waste and has typically ended up in some very significant gifts being exchanged.
In terms of the book thing it can work on a number of levels:
- The encouragement to read someone who doesn’t look like you. A woman or a person from another culture or country or faith.
- The opportunity to read into an issue you need to be working on – race, sexism, spiritual growth, parenting…
- A chance to understand your context better in term’s of your country’s history.
For many people, Christmas provides an easier opportunity to serve those around you.
Sometimes just showing up can be the best gift for those who might be alone or marginalised during much of the year.
My parents were always great about inviting people who might otherwise be alone to join us for a Christmas Eve meal. And visiting people in old age homes, both with carol-singing [my absolute worst] and flowers, or hospitals or children’s homes.
There are often many opportunities to join in and help serve a meal to those living on the streets or struggling to find food.
The past few years a few of us have volunteered with The Carpenter’s Shop [now called The Hope Exchange] during the lead up to Christmas [and many have helped out on Christmas day] to step in so that those who feed a few hundred people every day of the year can have a much needed break. [To get involved this year on one or more days from 17 December to Christmas day, click here]
Do you know someone who might be alone on the day? Do you know anyone who has lost someone in 2019 and this will be there first Christmas without that person? What can you do to include others in your fun and feastings and celebrations?
Another huge aspect that a lot of people have been rethinking is in terms of how much waste is produced at Christmas.
Both in wrapping paper and supplies as well as food and decorations.
If we reduce our gift-giving for gift-giving sake already that is a good start.
Many people have decided to move away from gift-giving completely or being intentional with redirecting money that would have been spent on gifts towards a person, family or organisation that could really use it.
But how can we think more creatively about how we give the gifts we do decide to give in terms of how we give them?
So much waste is created by wrapping up gifts and while there is some excitement in the surprise of opening something and not knowing what you are about to receive, does it really justify all the waste we create. Surely we can be more clever while finding ways to retain that surprise?
Perhaps even our decorating can be more creative than necessarily spendful [it’s a word!]?
The Bottom Lines
Our world is in a bit of a mess, to say it mildly. And Christmas really is an opportunity for us to address that, rather than adding to it.
We can do things to reduce the inequality between those who have and those who don’t.
We can refuse to be an even bigger part of creating waste that has to be dealt with.
We can invite those for whom Christmas might not be such an exciting prospect to sit at our tables and become part of our family, even if just for one day or night.
What else do you have to add to these ideas of Rethinking Christmas? Would love to hear your thoughts, unique traditions and ideas…