"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?