buy nothing christmas '03
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You say that "We're not saying communism is a better alternative", but have you ever noticed that the very first Christians were, in fact, nothing else but examplary "socialists" (or "communists")? Read carefully Acts 2:44 and 4:32, and you'll find the first Christians had everything in "common." It is logical to conclude they were some kind of "theocratic communists," waiting for their Messiah to come and to rule over all the earth as the unique "Owner" and "Partaker" of all things! I know that you're good people. — Serge Bessette

I am writing to express thanks appreciation. Three years ago I stopped taking part in the gifting ritual and instead determined how much I would spent, added 50 percent, and gave that amount to a soup kitchen. I shared this with friends and family. One of the best "gifts" I received was when a close friend donated to the support of a family that recently suffered a tragic loss through a fire. Each and every action makes a difference. I thank you for making a difference. — Leonard Poole

This is the second year I suggested my family try a "buy nothing" Christmas. Slowly, most of my family is warming to the idea. I have taken up knitting for the first time in anticipation of the day when we all agree. My mother (the head shopper) is almost entirely on board, so if we do end up buying gifts this year, I'm certain it will be a scaled down version of our traditional gift circus. Hurray for small victories! — Nicole Goranko

This is all truly inspiring. As I walked through the mall today (just to drop off my library books at the new City Place location, honest), and looked around me at the incredible flood of plastic stuff, I felt a sense of relief for the first time during this season, knowing that I won't have to participate. I tell as many people as I can. — LeeAnne, Winnipeg, Manitoba

I really like Jesus Shopes for Sandals. I'm wondering why doesn't Jesus know how to pray. Of course is just some fiction, but somehow there is an implication that the guy in the story is THE Jesus rather than just someone who happens to have the name Jesus. So why on earth does he not know how to pray?! And what does the author want to say with that? Really great site. — Markus

Been recommended to your site after a conversation with a friend. Good to know others are sharing my growing revulsion for the over commercialisation of Christmas. This is the first year I'm trying it. Thanks for the encouragement. — Janice Henley

I live in Russia, and for our country there is a more important problem, it is New Year holiday consumerism. So, I will realize [promote] good anti-commercial ideas for this holiday, ok? Because my family don't celebrate Christmas at all. — Matania, Russia

It's tough when it's time to celebrate Christmas with my husband's family. They say how proud they are to be Christians and then give about 40 gifts in an hour on December 25th. My mother-in-law hopes we understand how much she loves us because of the amount of gifts she gives us. This is so sad. Your site gives me hope, I have discovered Christian people who propose new ways of celebrating Christmas. — Marie Brodeur

Having worked in retail, I notice there are two types of people that shop for Christmas: First, there is the stressed-out person that finds it frustrating to "have to" buy something because everybody else does it, but will still do it. He just ends up spending a lot of money thinking that that's what make people happy. His experience is unpleasant and the gift-giving part is ruined by his attitude. The second type of person wants to find the perfect little thing that will make someone they love happy. That person will have so much fun shopping. What they have in mind is not "I better find something quickly" but rather, "I can't wait to see his smile when he sees it." I agree there are too many people in the first group, but there are still positive things about gift giving. Last year I made a coffee mug with pictures of my mom and me from when I was a baby until now. She was crying because she was so touched. I spent 20 dollars. There's nothing wrong with gift giving, as long as it makes you happy to do it. That's my point of view, probably because I am part of group 2. — Rosanne

Good that you give alternatives to consumerism. But, in regards to the question about what if people lose their jobs: you give no alternatives, not even general ones, as to what the people do who've lost their jobs if consumerism falls that drastically. That struck me as rather blithe and too quickly put together. What DO people do then? Is it really realistic to think that an alternate economy can be viable without collapsing the country -- health-care, education etc. I think some comments from various alternative economists, politicians and agriculturalists should be included with their views that correlate with what you say. I only see disaster if this would ever be successful. — Zeph

[Editors note: Good point, Zeph. I can point to a book by Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (Beacon, 1994). Also, consider alternative economies, like these.]

You people are a buch of fun-killing communists! Why not go all out once a year , buy like crazy and stimulate our economy. Long live capital markets, free trade and accumulation of wealth. Once you people get real jobs, you'll understand! — Elena Bertrand

The commercial side of Christmas is nothing more than mammon worship and it only provides artificial momentary superficial joy. Christmas/Noel is paganish in all of its roots, and the celebration isn't even in the Bible. Jesus' birth in the flesh is biblical and I don't need a holiday to remind me of that fact. Jesus doesn't want a birthday and doesn't want to be in Christmas. — Jean Blaquiere

After searching continually for over an hour, I come here to finally find Jesus back in Christmas. Thank you, your site has touched me in ways that my heart has needed to be touched. Your strength, courage, faith and caring have all touched me. God bless and thank you for this site. — Wendy

My family has never been very well off, and we have always made all our xmas cards and pressies ourselves. Home-made doesn't mean naff, it's so much more personal. Many of our friends and family still have cards I made them ten years ago! This year I'm making candle sets, last year I made calendars (always a good one). At the end of the day, xmas isn't about being tired, stressed and poor, it's about seeing the people you love having a good time, so forget hectic xmas shopping and enjoy the people around you. — sorrel

I heard your broadcast last night [interview on BBC Wales, Nov. 30, 2003]. My husband had taped the programme for me and was so excited to hear all you had to say. It is just how we feel about Christmas and for the last 4 years we have been involved in providing Christmas lunch for people in the community who would otherwise be on their own. I found the website straight away afterwards and have downloaded the Bible Studies. A friend who is a Deacon and I are going to do one in Ikea Wednesday evening over a coffee. l shall tell as many people as I can about BNC. Thankyou for having the courage and imagination to start this amazing project you have my support 100%. In 1981 I became a local rep for Traidcraft a Fair Trade Mail Order Company. I sold their goods from my sitting room and through the local churches. In 1989 I passed it on to another person with more space and she got it into even more churches. Then it started to appear on Supermarket shelves, something I could never have imagined in 1981. So who knows where BNC is going to end up. We have a local Council of Churches here in Penarth and I am our church rep on that committee so have a network to publicise your work. Thanks again and keep me posted. — Bronwen Roberts

UPDATE: We had chocolate not coffee in the end, and got a free refill too, great stuff! The first study really made us think. My Deacon is thinking of using ideas from the first two studies as the basis of an alternative service she is holding next week. We will try and get a few more people to come with us when we go back to Ikea to do the second study in two weeks time and shall try and think of a way to open it to other customers.— BR

It's tough when it's time to celebrate Christmas with my husband's family. They say how proud they are to be Christians and then give about 40 gifts in an hour on December 25th. My mother-in-law hopes we understand how much she loves us because of the amount of gifts she gives us. This is so sad. Your site gives me hope, I have discovered Christian people who propose new ways of celebrating Christmas. —Marie Brodeur

Having worked in retail, I notice there are two types of people that shop for Christmas: First, there is the stressed-out person that finds it frustrating to "have to" buy something because everybody else does it, but will still do it. He just ends up spending a lot of money thinking that that's what make people happy. His experience is unpleasant and the gift-giving part is ruined by his attitude. The second type of person wants to find the perfect little thing that will make someone they love happy. That person will have so much fun shopping. What they have in mind is not "I better find something quickly" but rather, "I can't wait to see his smile when he sees it." I agree there are too many people in the first group, but there are still positive things about gift giving. Last year I made a coffee mug with pictures of my mom and me from when I was a baby until now. She was crying because she was so touched. I spent 20 dollars. There's nothing wrong with gift giving, as long as it makes you happy to do it. That's my point of view, probably because I am part of group 2. —Rosanne

Good that you give alternatives to consumerism. But, in regards to the question about what if people lose their jobs: you give no alternatives, not even general ones, as to what the people do who've lost their jobs if consumerism falls that drastically. That struck me as rather blithe and too quickly put together. What DO people do then? Is it really realistic to think that an alternate economy can be viable without collapsing the country -- health-care, education etc. I think some comments from various alternative economists, politicians and agriculturalists should be included with their views that correlate with what you say. I only see disaster if this would ever be successful. —Zeph

[Editors note: Good point, Zeph. I can point to a book by Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (Beacon, 1994). Also, consider alternative economies, like these.

You people are a buch of fun-killing communists! Why not go all out once a year , buy like crazy and stimulate our economy. Long live capital markets, free trade and accumulation of wealth. Once you people get real jobs, you'll understand! —Elena Bertrand

We were roaming around a mall when a group of youngin's approached us. They explained this commonly used procedure and asked if we cared to join. Well, when welcomed like this from many youngin's, how can we say no! We took a paper and read it twice. We then decided to stop shopping and give the gifts we had purchased to a charity fund. We then helped them with their pamphlets and started screaming. People began looking at us like we had three eyes. But we knew deep down that this was something that could change people's thoughts about Christmas. Now we're not ones to judge, but making is better then buying! Tomorrow we are headed out to a local mall to spread the SWEET words about BUY NOTHING CHRISTMAS. — Laura and Mary

Instead of going to your day job to work your hourly wage to earn your paycheck to pay for a gift manufactured somewhere far away... If you yourself cannot create the gift you really want to give to a friend, consider BARTERING the skills and knowledge you do have to obtain the gift locally. Let me give an example: I DO NOT bake well. But I would like to offer the gift of good, healthy baking to my friend Jane. I DO repair roofs very well, but my friend Jane lives in a basement apartment and wouldn't have use for my services. So, I may be able to repair the leaky roof of the local bakery in exchange for vouchers for bread, pies and cookies. I may give these vouchers to my friend Jane as a gift. The result? I have used my abilities (and not paid any income taxes), I have provided a service for the bakery, I have given the gift I really wanted to give, I have supported the local economy, I have ensured that my friend is eating wholesome and tasty food rather the crap I might have baked for her, I have formed relationships with the bakery folks while we worked out this arrangement. I have NOT entered a mall, NOT stood in line, NOT swiped a card, NOT negotiated a traffic jam, and NOT received a credit card bill. The example is perhaps a bit specific, but it can be applied in so many creative ways. I hope it provokes some alternative thinking on gift giving, using barter and trade where the actual creation of a gift is not possible (or desirable!) — Jen Neufeld, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Thanks for your web site and the "action" you are taking to confront this issue. I know for a fact that you have hit a nerve with Christian and non-Christian parents who are shopping this year with the vain hope of trying to get something for the kids that they have not already got! I love Christmas and shopping (and will still buy/make presents)but feel a deep sense of unease about all the stuff our household accumulates. Your web-site has made me feel I can do something more constructive, and cut back without spoiling things or being seen to be mean! —Lorraine Udell, UK

I am all for a lesser degree of consumerism, but you're web address is a little contradictory. You mention making someone a sweater as a gift...last time I checked, a skein of wool cost a couple of bucks. Making a card? Paper and pens costs money too. Donating to charity in Aunt Ruth's name? Hmm..need cash for that. These are less expensive gifts and that's awesome, but they do cost money. You're website should be called "buyinmoderation.com" not "buynothing". Frugality is a noble thing, but you've packaged it up in a rather misleading package. — Christy

I am pleased to see this website. It was referred to me by a Christian activist I knew in high school. A few years ago, (I am 22 currently) I told my family I wasn't going to buy them any presents for Christmas. I carried through with this, but it didn't go over so well - especially with my mom and my younger sisters. I like the suggestions of this site - that I could still do something nice for my loved ones, but just not spend any money. It's possible that I may purchase a Bible for my 14 year-old sister for Christmas this year, but mostly because she has specifically asked me for it. I am so glad there are other people that think like me! I am a non-denominational, Bible-believing Christian. I go to Harvest Bible Chapel (near Chicago); I am a punk-rock, anti-consumerist as well. — Katie, Rolling Meadows, Illinois

"Good on you mate." I like the idea of Buy Nothing Christmas because I separately dislike overconsumption and Christmas. I am not a Christian. Christmas in Perth, Western Australia is especially grim because the temperature here in December is either hot or very hot, but our Christmas traditions and foods are still totally suited to European snowstorm conditions. Aussies should be at the beach instead of in shopping centres in December! I started throwing Halloween parties for my kids a couple of years ago, because I believe it is more fun for kids than Christmas, offering games and dress-up fun, rather than expensive things and emotional baggage. I also like the natural and wholesome Halloween symbols of apples and pumpkin lanterns. Halloween is starting to take off in Perth. I probably have views that are very different to those of your organisation, but I agree that Christmas overconsumption is not a good thing. — Caroline, Perth, Australia

Suddenly I'm not alone here in old England (Birmingham)! Thank God there are people like you starting this message. Will tell my kids about you ( I'm a teacher). I wish you all great peace. — Sue Pettitt, Birmingham, UK

Fantastic! My husband and I have already been planning what we intend to do this year. Last year we took part in a demonstration in Oxford St. in London (site of UK's biggest Christmas shopping frenzy). There were meditating Santa's in Hamleys (huge toy shop) and outside Starbucks we handed out sandwiches and tea, it was great. This year we are trying to get a local choir to sing The Twelve Days of Christmas incorporating "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, some things I don't need... more things I don't need", etc. Should be fun. All in all it's a wonderful day with a serious message. — Chrissy Quinnell

I am so amazed to see how God has touched you. Although I have reduced my buying gifts quite a bit and given more to charities, etc., it doesn't seem enough... we need to do more. Thank you for inspiring me. — Josie

Love the Buy Nothing Christmas/Buy Nothing Day ideas, please refer to www.goodgifts.org to see if you think we're a worthy alternative. Good Gifts do involve buying, but you don't actually get anything for your money (aside from an acknowledgment card) -- so would that qualify?— Helen Atkins, London, UK

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