SPEND LESS! Before you think I am getting all Scrooge on you, let me explain what I mean. I love gifts! And I know most of you love gifts too. But think about this, America spends an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. Most of that money goes straight onto our credit cards at high interest rates that put us deeper into debt.
Let’s be honest, Christmas is a season of excess. It is hard to walk against the crowd that seems to want nothing more than to “eat, drink, and be merry.” As we think about joining the Conspiracy, we need to remember that spending less requires us to plan, research and build relationships. Spending less is harder than spending more; it requires more than just flipping through a catalog or bingeing at the mall. As we choose to go against the flow, it is important to remember that spending less on Christmas presents doesn’t mean we love our friends and family any less. In fact, we will often find that those to whom we give creative, personal gifts will see our love, and perhaps God’s, more clearly than ever before.
Yes, I know the idea to “spend less” is ambiguous. Spend less than last year? Spend less than my neighbor? Spend less than the average American, who spends one thousand dollars on Christmas gifts? Yes and no. How much is too much? How can you tell when you have too much? Who determines what you “need”? The line between excessive wealth and simplicity may be hard to find, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that nearly all of us have too much.
An Advent Conspiracy pastor in Pennsylvania experienced this in his congregation: “People in our church grabbed hold of the concept of spending less. People made Christmas simpler in order to worship fully. People gave relationally. A woman chose to ask her neighbors what their favorite charities were, and instead of giving them a typical gift, she donated to those agencies in their names. Christmas is becoming something different — and something better!”
What if Christmas was no longer about stuff? What if, this Christmas, we could worship fully and spend less?