Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ugh! Christmas Ads Already. Behold! My Gift-Giving Suggestion, Part Uno

It makes The Mir cranky, it sorely vexes the Mir, to see Christmas retail ads weeks before THANKSGIVING, for St. Peter's Sake!

There, I've vented.

Now, I'm going to segue into my regularly scheduled, end-of-year rant about consumerism among Christians at Christmastime. Ready to get offended? Good.

Off I go:

In contrast to the ads begging you to purchase consumer yumyums to satisfy all your fleshly desires--and I know about fleshly desires of the Valrhona chocolate, Barnes & Noble, Family Bookstores, music cds, dvds, and Easy Spirit shoes type--I'd like to offer a suggestion for Christmas gift-giving for all the adults in your family and among your friends: Give Jesus the present. In the name of your loved one.

Hey, it's HIS birthday we celebrate on Christmas, not yours or yours or hers or theirs or mine. His.


(Unless, er, you were actually born December 25th, in which case, here, have a scrumptious cake and this shiny box of goodies.)

So, how do you give to Jesus? It's, ahem, a piece of cake.

He already told us how. Give to the "least of these." If you give to those who do not have, who have real need as opposed to mere want, those who are downcast and oppressed, the hungry and thirsty and naked, and you do it out of love for God, then you're giving to Christ. You've just handed him the wrapped box with a big irridescent bow.

News Flash: The Body of Christ is suffering.

I'm not talking about a tight budget or a bashed fender or a root canal or the usual sufferings of mankind (deaths of loved ones, lost jobs, illness). I'm talking parts of the Body are having their hands chopped off, are being captured and enslaved, are being tossed into prison for just saying, "I believe in Christ." They are starving and freezing. They are raped and beaten. That's His body, his arms and legs and back and face being slapped and stabbed and burned and broken. Again.

Give the gift to Him. To His body. To "the least of these" that He loves.

It's our job to do this. We are commanded. It's not optional.

Many fine organizations have Christmas Gift catalogs where you can help widows, orphans, the disabled, and the destitute via donations that reach them as food, clothing, medicine, shelters, livestock, agricultural supplies, or schooling.

How much do Americans spend at Christmas for gifts that will likely be soon forgotten and not all that much appreciated? (Come on, did you really swoon over that fruitcake or inexpensive cologne or novelty mug? Did you really need that new cd or dvd or pair of pumps? Aren't there enough clothes in your closet? Didn't the old computer work fine?)

Billions and billions every year. The last estimate I read was of about $180 BILLION.

Think of what, say, half of that--90 billion dollars--could do if channeled toward helping villages dig wells for clean water, buy seeds for crops, purchase saplings for groves, supply clinics with antibiotics and syringes, obtain teachers and nurses for farflung provinces? Or closer to home, serving the elderly and chronically ill, the disabled and homeless.

Because tradition and social obligation and just plain wanting to feel like a big-generous-giver--and don't think that Christmas doesn't have its share of self-aggrandizing and self-congratulatory elements--makes it hard to totally blow off presents, hubby and I do both: We give to charities in the name of loved ones, and we buy discreet gifts, especially for the kinder, who we've trained from birth to be greedy little gumbos come late December, and that's our fault and, so, hey, what's an auntie to do?

That's right, we cave. We are not perfect in our convictions. But we're trying!

Side Note Rant: Training kids from birth to give in December as opposed to expecting to get would not be an unChristianly new tradition, methinks. Kids have their own birthdays for gathering booty, not to mention nearly every week of the year, if my observations are anything to go by.

So visit Samaritan's Purse or World Vision, who both offer great "charity gifts" for Christmas at their websites. Visit Habitat for Humanity International. Visit Food for the Poor. Visit Voice of the Martyrs, who help persecuted Christians globally, and their needs are ever-urgent. Give to local shelters in your town.

Give Jesus the gifts this year.


michael snyder said...

Amen and amen. We informed our relatives a few years ago that their "gifts" were coming in the form of World Vision postcards..."Thank you for your kind gift of a cow to feed a village..."

Our kids love going through the catalog and deciding what they're going to gift to the less fortunate.

Preach it, girl!

Mirtika said...

Those animal catalogs are GREAT. We gave our niece and nephew gifts of them giving bunnies to poor kids. BUNNIES. How can you not love giving BUNNIES.

Of course, I didn't want to tell them it was bunnies for food....er....urp.

michael snyder said...

Yeah, we left that part of the conversation out as well.

But my oldest son is into giving soccer balls...safe! I like it.

JFdotcom said...

Great comments. I just posted similar musings on my site, JesusFreak.com. Check out my site and drop me a line if you want. I'd certainly enjoy corresponding with others who are looking at the "big picture" when it comes to Scripture. Take care.

Chad Steenerson