How easy it is to get swept up in the energy, excitement and chaos of this time of year. It seems that in December a sort of frenzied madness descends upon us as we brave the shopping centres, buy gifts, and triple check our lists to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything or anyone.
Must it be like this? Is there a way we can take a step back and make this time of year simpler, more enjoyable and more connected to what Christmas means?
Christmas is not about excess and chaos, but about celebrating the thrill of hope that God has given the world.
Christmas is not about excess and chaos, but about celebrating the thrill of hope that God has given the world. It is about joy as we celebrate God’s sending his son, the Prince of Peace and mighty saviour, who redeems our world. So perhaps now as the frenzy begins, we should take a moment to consider how we might do Christmas well. As we celebrate Jesus, the most useful gift we have ever received, we can think about how we can also give and live in a way which is useful, and brings a sense of renewal to our world.
At TEAR’s recent Just Women events, Canadian author Ann Voskamp urged us to consider someone we can show generosity to each time we write a shopping list. Perhaps there’s a food drive near you such as this one by Anglicare. Who else in your community can you share the love of Christ with?
How about making some granola, chocolate bark, or put some delicious bulk foods in a re-usable jar. While you’re there, you could put some Epsom salts in a jar, and perhaps add some fresh herbs or flowers for DIY bath salts! Other ideas could be a home-grown plant, or some seeds and a pot, so your recipient can have the delight of watching it sprout.
For family, friends and colleagues, perhaps you could consider a “Secret Santa” (Kris Kringle) system, and reduce the quantity of gifts you’ll exchange, and increase their quality. Perhaps for the people you’re purchasing for, receiving gifts is not their love language, and they’d instead prefer quality time together, an act of service, or words of affirmation. For the gifts you’re keen to buy, there are some exciting ways you can do this that have a positive impact on your local and global community.
Who Gives a Crap have a fun festive range of useful products, as do Thankyou. Or how about a bokashi compost bin! TEAR's Useful Gifts not only give you a card to write on, but support projects bringing justice to marginalised communities across the world, and are the ultimate feel-good gift.TEAR's Useful Gifts
Support your local charity shops and brings new life to a disused item? Perhaps If you’re after a new outfit, you could find something perfect at charity shop near you.
As for food, check out the Sustainable Seafood Guide, The Sustainable Table, The Ethical Supermarket Guide and support your local farmers. For waste, find a local supermarket where you can recycle your soft plastics, and connect with a community garden or individual who’d love your compost.
May this Christmas season fill you afresh of the hope we have in Jesus, and may it be a joyful time as you share this with your community.
Please note that this article reflects the personal views and suggestions of the authors Britt and Traci - TEAR doesn't promote any commercial businesses.
Britt Cicognani is a keen celebrator of Christmas, a student of theology and soon-to-be Melbourne resident where she will work for City on a Hill.
Traci Thomas is a Sydney TEAR supporter and Master of Sustainability student. She prefers buying things second hand, and is looking forward to gifting plants she's grown from food scraps this Christmas.