Monday, December 17, 2007

Hundred Dollar Holiday

"There is no ideal Christmas; only the Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions."

My friend Jody recently loaned me a book called Hundred Dollar Holiday. Expecting merely practical ideas, I was surprised that much of the book focuses on the history of Christmas. Though I am not a history buff, it was interesting to read how our modern holiday evolved. The author, Bill McKibben, also discusses cultural differences in North America today and offers ideas for revising our theory and practice of Christmas celebrations. McKibben and a group of local churches banded together to suggest a more modest approach: a holiday in which the budget is just one hundred dollars. The point, he says, is not that exact amount, especially for large families. The point is to scale back on spending, with an emphasis on homemade gifts and coupons for services or time together (massage, meals, trip to the zoo, etc.)

Why do this? According to McKibben, it's "to emerge from Christmas relaxed, contented, happy to have kept this season. To emerge closer to your family than you were when Advent began. To emerge with some real sense that Christ has come into your world."

McKibben introduces readers to organizations I'd never heard of, like SCROOGE (the Society to Curtail Ridiculous Outrageous and Ostentatious Gift Exchange!) and The Center for a New American Dream, which has a section on simplifying the holidays. It's very thought-provoking material!

As McKibben says, "Christmas is a time for enormous celebration, but also a time for pondering, for reverence, for awe at our sheer good fortune that God sent His only child into our midst."

In the true spirit of the book's message, Jody gave us a homemade coupon for 3 sessions of babysitting. What a great present! I'd love to hear from you--do you enjoy giving and receiving homemade gifts and coupons? What do you think of the idea of a hundred dollar holiday?


A, B & C said...

Wow- what a great concept. It would not only make our holidays with family and friends more meaningful, but it would free up more of our time for meaningful Christmas activities. We've been trying to fit in a lot of light shows and holiday festivals this year. It's been a wonderful change from feeling like Christmas just passed me by!

Jody said...

I made cookies for Brenna's teachers, the chiropractor & his office and the place that keeps the cars running.

We try to give useful gifts or items we know are wanted. For ourselves we don't do much in the way of gifts, a few small things for the girls, but we try to do things.

Leanne said...

After a few fustrating phone calls and purchase yesterday...and leaving the mall thinking to myself "why"??... the New American Dream was the perfect reference!I'm putting it on my blog also...
I don't think gifts are bad, but the stress and pressure is awful!
Thank you for the renewed insight!

tas said...

due to some serious financial restrainsts, i have spent more on buying things to make than on actual presents. it's been fun! i am not a crafty person, but have figured out how to sew wall hangings and paint on glass.

thehomespunheart said...

I've given babysitting gift certificates before - I am not sure if I recall one ever being redeemed. So glad you will use yours! :)

I LOVE to make gifts! I LOVE to give gifts! But, I am coming to realize more and more that not everyone LOVES to receive homemade gifts. I am trying to be more intentional about seeking homemade gift ideas that I think others will use or enjoy. Or, be willing to purchase a gift they will enjoy or use.

By shopping throughout the whole year and using other thrifty resources, it is still possible to purchase a gift and stay in a budget.

I love the idea - and I know that we have made an effort to keep things fairly low-scale. There is always room for improvement, right?!

MyHeartIsAlwaysHome said...

I love to receive a handmade gift, but I find that many do not. We have really scaled back this year and I find that I am not missing the shopping hussle and bussle.