If you have any other reading suggestions or resources on how
to practice a Buy Nothing Christmas, please
let us know.
Bill McKibben, Hundred Dollar Holiday (Simon & Shuster,
1998). See his article on the Simplify the Holidays website, www.newdream.org/holiday/home.html.
Sallie McFague, Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy
for a Planet in Peril (Fortress, 2001). Wow.
Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, Jr. in For the Common Good:
Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and
a Sustainable Future (Beacon Press, 1994). Thick
Trek: Venture into a World of Enough, a resource packet available
from Mennonite Central Committee (www.mcc.org).
Doris Janzen Longacre, Living More With Less (Herald Press,
Here are some ideas and other feedback we've received from other
readers. You are welcome to submit your comments or ideas as well.
Collect for other families
Our extended family used to exchange names for Christmas. We'd
make wish lists for each other to try to cut down on the drudgery
of shopping. A few years ago someone got the idea of collecting
money for needy families instead of shopping for each other. Usually
we give the money to someone that one of our family's knows or
has some connection to.
This way of sharing Christmas cheer is much more satisfactory
than spending money on each other. The tearful "thank yous"
that we have received are better than the "I wonder if I
spent as much money as my sister-n-law?" concerns that we
used to experience. The generosity is probably exceeded as well.
Bev Short and Reimar Goetzke, Fort Langley, British
When I was a diagnostician with children, I asked one lad what
he wanted as a reward for reading to his mother for fifteen minutes
each night. His reply was that he really wanted her to "just
be with him to chat a bit." This insight made me realize
that we could drastically change our gift giving.
On the next "gift" occasion John gave me a coupon book
to be redeemed before the year was up. Imagine the delight when
I looked at the colourful drawings and wee "ads" for
everything from a foot massage (when asked), to making me a cup
of hot drink on request. Going for a leisurely walk when desired
was also very special, or looking at photos of places we had visited.
So if people want high quality time on request, a coupon book
with desirable sharing experiences is our wee contribution to
your Christmas tree of less commercial goodies.
Sally and John Guggenheimer, Abbotsford, British Columbia
Last year at Christmas, we put together MCC School Kits with my
husband's extended family instead of exchanging gifts. Each family
unit was responsible for purchasing items that went into the kit.
For example, my husband and I bought all of the notebooks. When
the family all gathered together at Christmas, each person held
a bag and the children circled the room dropping items into each
bag. The children enjoyed this activity and responsibility, and
it provided a meaningful, gift-giving ritual for the family.
Tracy Wideman, Langley, British Columbia
Already doing it
I don't think I'll participate for several reasons. I love to
give presents. I don't buy something for the sake of buying something,
and I don't try to keep up with the Joneses. If I read a book
that I think another would like, I pass it on or buy another (sometimes
several). It's a way of saying I love you.
We have tried at various times to get our family to give up on
turkey, etc., but they won't go for it. Maybe in a world of change
something that doesn't change is reassuring?
I admire the people who give away only what they've made, and
I do a lot of that, but I give so much time away that there's
a limit to how much I can make at home. I do try to give (fairly-traded)
gifts from UNICEF or Ten Thousand Villages or books like Nation
to Nation that have a social justice component.
I have on occasion given to charities like UNICEF and given the
proof of the gift, a card, a certificate, to various people. They
always seem to appreciate it, but I get the receipt, which doesn't
seem fair. I am going to ask that people not give to me, but spend
the money on donations to MCC for Iraq or Pakistan, etc. That
way they get the receipt, and maybe increase their giving a bit,
or give in a new direction.
Donna Stewart, North Vancouver, British Columbia
Push the alternatives
Thanks for your information on Buy Nothing Christmas. Just a few
thoughts. Could the "alternatives" be pushed a bit more.
For people who don't have the web, do they have access?
Also, if there are extra funds, could they be distributed to
people even outside of Canada and the US? Using MCC channels,
etc. Spirit's power to you and love.
Hedy Sawadsky, Vineland, Ontario