Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why I'm spending my money on "crap" this Christmas

Ok, so at the risk of sounding really awful, I am posting my feelings toward this movement that we should be giving to the poor and needy, instead of blowing money on "stuff" at Christmas time. I rarely post a blog. I think it's because, once I write something, post it, and someone reads it, I can't take it back. So, I don't post. But I want to post this blog. I want to try to put my finger on, and articulate to you, what has been bothering me about this whole movement to conspire at Christmas to put the true meaning of Christmas back into Christmas. Which, apparently, is to take care of the poor and needy, and not to waste money on stuff, that will lose it's luster in a matter of days or weeks, and sometimes even moments, as we rush to open the next package. You see, I was actually attending Imago Dei church, when the idea of Advent Conspiracy was conceived and brought to life. At the time I thought it was a wonderful idea, and we participated along with our church body, and wells were dug, and people had clean water, and less money was spent on junk. So what is the problem?? Doesn't this sound like a wonderful, life giving event? Shouldn't we all jump on this well-meaning and quite beautiful band wagon? Well... yes... and no.

We all know about the poor. We see commercials of them, with their round and distended bellies, empty of food. We see pictures of them, living among filth, no clean water in sight. We even see them, in person, pushing their shopping carts and making their "beds" on the streets at night. Should this move us? Yes! Does it move me? Sometimes... sadly, never enough. But sometimes. Is Christmas the time for it to move me the most? Maybe, but I don't think so. Is it wrong that this Thursday I intend to go to the stores and "blow" my hard earned cash on "stuff" for my spouse and kids, when all someone else wants is a clean glass of water? When I put it like that, it sure seems terribly wrong.

Well, I've pondered this a lot, and have been able to see all of my sweet friends on facebook posting blogs who are pondering the same thoughts, only to come up with a different conclusion for themselves. They plan to teach their children about "right" or "real" giving. Where the need is so great, the gift can actually give physical life to another. They are buying things like goats, or seeds, instead of bouncing balls and Barbie dolls.

So again, why am I not jumping on this very well-meaning and actually life giving band wagon?! Well, because Mary broke an expensive and very large jar of perfume on Jesus' feet. She "wasted" perfume that could have been sold, and the money given to those in great need. She did this out of love for her Savior. Judas Iscariot (the betrayer) was not pleased. He even mentions the poor. And Jesus says that "the poor we will always have" and then He tells them that they won't always have Him. You see, we will not always have these moments, the ones where our children are here, living under our roof, being cared for and loved on by us. I am suggesting that these memories we make together during times of celebration can and even should include a bit of extravagance, like when the prodigal son returned home. I am suggesting that giving someone a gift can and is a way to show love to your "neighbor". I am suggesting, that there is always going to be those in need, and they will always need our help. I am suggesting that we should give to the poor all the rest of the year. But at Christmas I want to put that aside for just a little while.

Maybe it's because my family does things differently the rest of the year, that I'm feeling this way. We don't buy ourselves or our children things that we want, or even things that we need. (And by need I don't mean food water and shelter, but need based on an American standard of living). We don't take vacations, we rarely, if ever, go out to eat, we clean our own house, I almost never get my hair done or a pedicure, my kids go without new underwear, socks, books, toys, and clothes all year round. Sometimes, the girls will save up by working for allowance, and buy something they want. But for the most part, birthdays and Christmas are it for our yearly spoil. Do I fault my dear Christian brothers and sisters for spending money on these things all year round? Do I write blogs rebuking them for living it up, while people are dying? No. I don't. Should I? Maybe... but I don't think so. I think that as long as you are not accruing debt, and you are still giving generously when and where you can, you should enjoy the blessings God has given you.

And about this giving generously. It should include three principles. It should be done cheerfully, it should be done for God's glory alone, and it should be done anonymously. When you give, and it is out of obligation, and not out of joy, God would rather you didn't give at all. When you give, in order to look good, or to make someone's life easier rather than for God's glory alone, it is in vain. When you give and tell about it, you are paid in full your blessings. The praise of man is all that you will receive from that gift. And it takes away from the gift completely. I can tell you, first hand, there is very little joy in receiving charity, unless it is done anonymously. Also, when you tell about the wonderful thing you are doing, others will compare themselves to you, and they will either come out ahead or behind. Either way, the focus is on man and not God.

It seems to me that holidays were created by God and given to man to serve a purpose. And I don't believe it was to mope and fuss about the woes of this fallen world, of which of there are many. That purpose, I believe, was and is to celebrate. Yes! Celebrate the babe in the manger! Yes! Celebrate your Salvation, given you by God's grace and mercy in the death and resurrection of that very same babe! But I say live it up! Have a feast! Emulate the great wedding banquet in heaven! Buy your loved ones something that you normally wouldn't, or that you normally would, but this time wrap it up and put a bow on it. And then, wake up tomorrow, and put those in the margins of society, back on your heart. And pray about how you can help and how you can give. And then do it. Because as Christ Himself said, "the poor we will always have."

Merry Christmas my dear sweet readers. May the King of kings bless you this day and everyday. May He alone be glorified in all things and through all things. And may this post bring you freedom from condemnation, and may it return the joy that possibly has been lost to you by the good intentions of others.


  1. Love this post! So very true! Have a very merry Christmas - "Crap" and all! ;)

  2. Well said, Chaundra. I've heard this perspective before. I think it probably depends on where you are "at" in your walk with Christ. For those (especially us homeschoolers) who tend toward legalism, they probably need to hear this. However, many, many more probably need the challenge to consider their lifestyles of luxery and lack of giving. For us, we do a blend of both. The law of love needs to rule for both sides of the fence wherever your conscience rests and neither should condemn the other but ALL should be done as worship. Marianne Rolfs

  3. "Do I write blogs rebuking them for living it up, while people are dying? No. I don't. Should I?"

    Well, maybe there's too much justification to assimilate. So, yea I think you should.

    Well written Chaundra. Glad to see you put this out there.

  4. Chaundra....I am CRACKING up at this!! Thank you for bringing this up. My husband and I have always been very pro Christmas presents for our kids. We are in your exact same boat. We don't vacation, I clean my own house, I've had 2 pedicures in my life, our cars are 17 and 12 years old and we haven't been to a movie as a family since last Christmas. Am I asking for pity? No. Do I feel guilty when we buy our kids stuff at Christmas that they don't absolutely need? No. We don't go crazy and lose our heads, but this is the time of year where we make deposits in their love bank in the form of gifts. Our kids volunteer all year long at a homeless shelter, they've been on multiple missions trips and they love the Lord. My daughter organized a blanket drive for the homeless. It is her desire to distribute them in downtown Portland on Christmas Day. They have their heads screwed on straight and they are not spoiled. Do I feel bad about buying her some fun stuff that makes her super happy? Nope. Pardon the momentary bragging, but teens these days get a bad rap and I don't want them to feel guilty about getting Christmas presents.

  5. Very heart warming! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  6. Bravo! Bravo! Well said! Our son did not spend Christmas with us as he is at war in Afghanistan. .. I would blow all the money I had on all kinds of crap just to have him in the same room with us. We would laugh and dance and eat way too much. The footie pajama days and santa and cookies and wide eyed wonder went way too fast!

  7. Chaundra, I love reading your blog and bravo on the extremely well written article! Don't discontinue writing!

    Was also hoping to ask you for some advice regarding one of your posts you wrote last year for help with my own children. Is there anyway to contact you or can you email me to jennymahon@googlemail.com ?

    Will be really grateful to hear from you!

    Many thanks,