It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas… shudder. Carols are already being played, lights are already out, stores are stocked with decorations and food and candy and chocolate. And we complain every single year about how Christmas is all about consumerism… yet what do we do to stop it?
I volunteer with the Not For Sale Campaign. It's mission is to re-abolish slavery in our lifetime. It has what's called a 'Freedom Store' where NFS purchases Fair Trade items made by survivors of trafficking or organizations dedicated to supporting the release of modern-day slaves, and sells them here with profits going back to the aforementioned organizations. I am one of the Freedom Store's wholesalers. If you're in the Alberta area and are looking for an alternative to those goofy Wiis or iPods or cars or cell phones, give me a shout. 100% of the proceeds goes to Coming Home Ministries (my organization combatting trafficking), the Not For Sale Campaign, AND (depending on the item you purchase) the organization that made the item itself. Organizations like NightLight in Thailand… 31 Bits in Uganda… the El Shaddai Orphanage in Swaziland… and believe me, every penny counts.
I don't have a lot of stock right now so once I'm out of an item, it's out. And I'm on going to go out on a slender limb here and making what would seem to be a very poor business move: if you don't want to buy anything because the consumerism is getting to you, DON'T. The money I raise helps develop stable economies, that's true. And it's also vitally important. But our North American mindset is on THINGS. And if THINGS are controlling your Christmas… let them go. You haven't got Christmas. You've got THINGS.
Make a donation to a charity of your choice (BIG plug here for NOT FOR SALE!!!), help your kids made their own cards for their friends and family members, put money towards a trip where you can get your hands dirty and HELP an organization around the world, research how we need to give money in ways that are more beneficial to other countries (the typical model of charity is making things worse, believe it or not), make a giant turkey dinner for 20 and haul it all downtown and serve it to anyone passing by… rich or poor… no strings attached… even for yourself.
So often we do these things to make ourselves feel better. While that might be so and it's not necessarily bad… it shouldn't be the primary motivator for our change in heart and life. Christ came to dwell amongst us: Emmanuel. Why hide the secret?
We need Christ at Christmas, indeed at all times and places in our lives… and other people need us. No XBox can ever replace that need, fulfill it or even remotely compare to it. Why settle for anything less?