Our church is supporting the Advent Conspiracy movement this year. The Advent Conspiracy basically is about spending less money on your gifts and giving more to those in need. It also encourages you to put more thought into your gifts by really focusing in on what would be meaningful to the receiver even suggesting to handmake a gift.
Suggesting to handmake a gift would normally make me laugh out loud, but now that I'm a professional knitter I see washrags in a few lucky people's futures. I like the idea of really trying to get meaningful gifts and honestly I often think long and hard about my gifts for others. I definitely have picked things up last minute, but for the most part I try to find that perfect thing for that perfect person.
In one of our family circles we've tapped into the Advent Conspiracy mentality a bit. For the last couple years we have been donating to charities in each others name. We donate things like clean water wells, school supplies, animals. This is all very commendable and I'm sure the good Lord approves, but tell me this.....why do I feel like George Costanza after receiving a clean water well given in my name?
Donating in someone's name has been good for me because it brings out my ugly side....kind of like parenting. It brings out the old selfishness "me" mentality that I like to carry around in my back pocket. Doesn't anyone want to spend time thinking about the perfect gift for "me?" "I" like traditions. "I" like opening gifts. All the presents under the tree are for my kids. What about "me?" Why do they get to have all the fun? Me, me, me! (And yes, I'm 31.)
See what I mean.
Don't act like you would jump up and down either though.
Yes, I want to help those in need - I'm not a complete waste of space. And do I need anything? Definitely not. Maybe it just goes back to my love of shopping...I don't know.
So the question is: am I just another consumer being sucked into a consumer driven society? Is there something to a traditional Christmas? And, darn it! Why is it so hard for me to be happy about "a piece of paper with my name on it?" Someone just got clean water or food for their family to get them through an entire year. Stuff I have plenty of.
I'm sure my inner "George" will rear his ugly head again this Christmas. But I'd like to think I'm giving him a fair warning this year.