Sunday, October 11, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

Okay, I'm not gonna go all religious on you, so don't worry. But this morning at church I heard about an organization called Advent Conspiracy. I am constantly moved to do more to help the world--not about politics or who's in charge, or who's ahead. Just helping. Just doing. Sometimes it's hard to feel that one person--little ol' me--can really do anything that will be of significant help. That's why I was intrigued by Advent Conspiracy. According to their figures, Americans spend $450 billion--that's right, not a typo, billion--on Christmas every year. If we each just didn't buy one gift and instead gave it to buy clean water for the world's neediest people, we could make a tremendous impact. Think of it. You don't need to buy every person in your acquaintance a gift, do you? I know that many of the gifts I receive from others outside my family are often not things I want anyway. I'm sure they probably feel the same about mine. Why not, instead, give the money away and let your friends know that you donated it in their name?

The other piece of this equation is giving more than material possessions. Giving your presence instead of presents. Making gifts or giving the gift of time. One year our family decided that we were going to make all our gifts. It was incredibly fun, creative, and meaningful. We had to really think. So often, don't you find yourself shopping for someone and thinking "I have no idea what to give to this person." Then we just end up buying something, even if it's not great, just so there's a gift under the tree. Why not just offer your time to that person, your presence? A book of coupons for say, a walk in the park, a neck massage, a home-cooked dinner, or a drink after work. Time.

There are numerous organizations in addition to Advent Conspiracy. Heifer International is a great one. They've been around for years. Alternative Gifts International has a wide variety of good causes. You can customize the donation you make to fit the person you're giving for--my sister-in-law, Erica, has done this for years in honor of our family members. She knows I'm into children's and women's causes, so in my name she donates to causes that benefit women and children around the globe. I'm honored by it. You probably are aware of others, maybe mission work through your church, maybe peace organizations. Anything can have an effect.

And while I'm on the subject, let's not forget that day after Thanksgiving, on which the world seems to go nuts over Christmas shopping. Buy Nothing Day, sponsored by Adbusters, encourages us to not buy anything on that day. Protest the advertising craziness and stay home, or go for a walk, or eat more turkey. It's kind of freeing, actually. Our family has been known to go out to eat that day or go to a movie, but we definitely don't go shopping. I'm not big into the hype anyway--I like to celebrate one holiday at a time, thank you very much. (I haven't even put out Halloween decorations yet, for crying out loud.) I don't usually like shopping on a good day, and I certainly don't want to be at the mall with all the maniacs on the day after Thanksgiving. Yikes.

For other gift ideas, you can see my article in the November issue of Treasure Valley Family Magazine about giving gifts of the arts.


No comments:

Post a Comment