Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

I've been meaning to re-post this post, but kept forgetting until Rachel shared this video:

Also on Rachel's site is a video created by her former church to promote Advent Conspiracy...check it out!

Often when we watch a video like this our heart jumps, and we say, "ooooh, great idea!" But that great idea gets forgotten or tossed out the window when it's time to practically apply it to our lives.

D.L. Moody stated that "Every Bible should be bound in shoe-leather”...meaning don't just read it, live it! So... in the interest of putting feet to our faith, does anyone want to share any practical ideas you plan to implement this Christmas to get your family's focus back on Christ? For example, making your own Christmas cards, or spending a certain % less on gifts this year, or starting a new family tradition, etc

Also...regarding Advent calendars/spirals...is there anything in between the cheap paper calendars and the expensive wooden spirals?


Stefanie said...

Wow. That was fantastic. I've had that on my heart lately, a way to make Christmas have lasting meaning... way beyond anything you could put in a box.
Thanks, Tish. Good stuff :)

Shannon said...

love it and hope we get to see lots of good, practical ideas to implement and encourage each other with. the difficult thing is convincing others...every year we've asked my family to do away with the gifts and let's spend just some of that money on doing something really memorable together instead. it hasn't worked yet. but, i will tell you that the memories i have of my favorite holidays are of experiences we shared together and i can't even remember what gifts were given...
-ice-skating in central park on christmas eve when it began to snow
-taking a hot breakfast to some homeless men on the street on christmas morning
-picking out our christmas tree together and decorating it

david and i haven't exchanged gifts with each other for years. and, we're planning to do just a couple of presents each for the kids. i have more stress about what to get my other family members...if i didn't do that, i feel the holidays could be a pretty relaxing, experience-filled time.

looking forward to what others share!

dan and rachel said...

here are some things that we will do:

ask others not to buy gifts for us or to keep it really simple. in a way, i feel it's unfair to say to people, "sorry, no gift this year, we're donating the money instead." in that case your friends/family take the hit and not you, you know?

"sponsor" a local family who cannot afford gifts for themselves/ each other. we've done this for the past few years.

keep it pretty simple in our immediate family. personally, i think it's ok for kids to get SOME gifts. in order to keep our kids un-spoiled, we rarely buy them anything during the year, but get them one big christmas gift and then other smaller gifts. indi won't get anything too big because she is too little to understand. but, for instance, last year Jude got his first bike.

about homemade gifts -- they can be pricey, too and i think people THINK they are cheap/inexpensive because they are homemade. Two Christmases ago, I made these homemade gifts for all my friends/family. I made: a lavender linen spray, homemade soaps, a pillow filled with lavender, chamomile and flax seed that can be microwaved for sore muscles, etc a dream pillow which is a sachet of herbs that you put under your pillow and is supposed to induce sleep. i made cute labels for everything. i totally stressed making them, because i probably made at least 20 or so gift packages, it was really expensive, and i don't think anyone really thought it was that cool. my one aunt LOVED it and said she felt like Queen Esther, but everyone else gave a non-enthused "thanks."

Tish said...

rachel & shannon...great ideas! i will remember "no lavender filled pillows" this year!

scott and i have really scaled back on the gifts for each other in the past few years. we put the emphasis on buying each other a card and then filling it with mushy accolades. i think that buying a family gift is a good idea...something you will all use to promote togetherness in the coming year.

for M, his big gift is a train set this year. we do stockings so that will have some fun little items. other than that, i have purchased a couple of books here and there over the past months that i've been keeping for gifts.

i have been taking M with me when we buy gifts for the operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. we talk about buying the toys for teh kids...which are for the baby box, the big girl box, etc.

i'd like to start an advent calendar this year with M. i think it would be fun to do each night either at the table or before bed. also, i think this year we will open all of our CHristmas cards together at dinner...giving us a chance to talk about those people we love!

rather than exchanging gifts, on my mom's side of the family each family buys a restaurant gift card and then they play a game to determine which card you get. easy, fun and useful!

i've been thinking about Christmas cards. they are usually either super nice and expensive or cheap and, well, cheap looking. and then for most cards i usually sign some generic greeting above our names and then it's finished. so i thought about buying nice stationary, which tends to be less expensive for the quantity, and then actually writing individual notes to people. i think if i'm going to do this i better start today, huh?

i also didn't put photos of M in our Christmas cards last year...and boy, did i hear about it. not that i think it is at all wrong to do so...but, for me, i didn't want to take attention away from the message of the card. i think this year i will do the same and then send out photos of him at his birthday in january.

i would also love to invite soem friends over for cookie making or game playing or a tea party.

oh, i know a family who gets together with other familes to put together Operation Chritsmas Child shoe boxes...they each bring, say, ten items of the same toy...and then they all fill the boxes together. what a great way to show your kids the joy of giving!

Lisa said...

Ohhh...love this topic and love the ideas I'm seeing here!
Like others mentioned, Scott and I forego presents for ourselves besides a small stocking that Lauren helps to fill for each of us. The money we don't spend on ourselves we donate to Lauren's Babyhouse in Kazakhstan for the children there to each receive a small gift and treat; they would not otherwise receive anything at all during Father Frost. That just breaks my heart.........
We also try to wind some of our traditions around the storytelling of Baby Jesus and miracle thereof. There are some beautiful storybooks that are very child friendly, with gorgeous illustrations. We also have Lauren decorate her own candle each year for Christmas Eve Mass and she glues pictures of people/animals, etc. that she is praying for onto the candle.
A few other traditions we cherish are the decorating of the house/christmas tree; making a Gingerbread House/baking holiday cookies and sharing them with neighbors and taking a drive to see all the Christmas lights after Mass on x-mas Eve.
We also give Lauren a book every year on C. Eve and in it I write all about the past year and the things we have done together. Then together we brainstorm ideas for loving/giving things we can do for the next year, then add those to the book too.
Its really about the small traditions in so many ways!
Finally, I know we can do more....and should do more for others. I hope this year I set a better example of God's loving grace for Lauren.
Thanks Tish and Rachel...I needed that!
Lisa C.

Jon and Em said...

We do the shoeboxes as well. The kids love it! We also make a birthday cake for Jesus...gets brighter and brighter each year since the kids decorate it themselves. I so wish our extended families could all stick to my "3 Wisemen Rule" of getting each child 3 gifts just as Baby Jesus received.

Rebecca of "China, Baby!" said...

What a yummy post & discussion!!!!

I won't elaborate, because so much has already been said that I would echo anyway... but this year we do plan on just buying the kids 2 gifts each (Andy and I don't buy for each other). We do a little stocking too, only because that is a tradition at my grandmother's house (where we try to go every year). The kids also get a gift from Santa, a.k.a. Grandma. I feel like this gives them a nice Christmas but it's not overdone.

We've already planned to ship several boxes of toys, candy & other gifts to the children at Owen's orphanage. We've told the girls that they can earn money between now and December by doing extra jobs around the house, and then we'll have a big shopping trip together to pick out presents for the kids. I think it will be good for the girls to buy things with money they had to WORK for. They are really excited about it, too.

I love reading everyone else's ideas. I agree with Shannon - the best memories can't be bought. They are made with time together. :)


Tish said...

lots of great ideas going! 3 wiseman rule...awesome!

Jenna said...

I know a lot of people who use the "3 Wise Men Rule" and each of the three gifts given to Jesus represent different things to each family- although, almost every family does a "gold" gift (one very nice or more expensive gift).

As I was reading all of these comments, I was actually surprised at how many couples don't exchange gifts. Honestly, Scot and I don't really do much for each other either. However, I think many of us should rethink this. When I was a kid, one of my best memories every Christmas morning is of watching my mom and dad exchange presents. They did A LOT for each other- you would all surely consider it too much. However, they did NOTHING for themselves throughout the year, and on Christmas morning, they would show their appreciation and love for each other by blessing each other with thoughtful gifts. I remember thinking how nice it was for my dad to go out and pick out three new (beautiful) outfits for my mom all by himself. She always felt so important to him because he did that.

In my opinion, if we make Christmas all about our kids, then we are sending the wrong message. You can buy a few gifts for your spouse without being materialistic or consumeristic, and in the process, your kids can see you giving your spouse the honor they deserve. What a valuable lesson, I think.

I don't know if the idea of giving (or buying) is wrong or if the issue is really deeper than that- that often we get something for our family members just to have something to give, rather than actually stopping long enough to really find something that will BLESS that person and let them know how much they mean to you. I don't think a home made gift is always the answer (especially if it is from me since I do not have a crafty/creative/Martha Stewart bone in my body). :)

I think the answer is more of thinking of Christmas as an opportunity to bless the people you love- in whatever way seems appropriate all the while focusing on not getting caught up in the materialism.

For example, my sister and I don't exchange gifts, we buy ourselves tickets to see a show together and on that night we go out, have dinner, and spend some time together. Does that cost money? Yes, it does, but it also allows us to spend time together connecting, talking, and getting a break from our day-to-day lives. Could we skip dinner and give that money away instead, but still see the show? Sure, and those are the kind of adjustments I'm trying to make this year.

OK- I have one more thing to say.....again, my parents do a LOT at Christmas. truly an embarrassing amount. We've tried to ask them not to, give them ideas for other things (like savings bonds or whatever), but they just love to shower their grandkids (and kids) with stuff. It stresses us out very year. However, one good friend of ours just asked us to stop asking my parents to stop. They said that they felt that was dishonoring to my parents. Giving is CLEARLY my parent's love language, so instead of asking them not to love my kids in that way, I should focus on enjoying it and then managing the windfall (putting boxes of toys away for use another time,having my kids pick a few toys to give away each year, holding a yard sale every fall to clear out excess toys and giving that money away, etc....). I'm still thinking this over, but really, I felt pretty convicted when my friend said that. I don't want to dishonor my parents, and I know I hurt their feelings when I try to control their giving.

Anyway, just some thoughts.

Just Us said...

Great video. Derek and I don't really exchange gifts either..haven't for a long time. And if we do, we usually set a limit of $20 and see what creative things we can come up with for $20. We also thought long and hard about this this year and have talked to a lot of our closest friends that we should not exchange gifts anymore even for the kids and instead spend time together as friends. Because honestly the real important things in life (family, friends and the memories you share) get lost during the holiday buying madness.

Thanks Tish!

Tish said...

jenna...good thoughts, as always!

i think that one of the reasons scott & i got away from gifting each other was that it became more about trying to find gifts for the sake of having presents to give rather than for blessing each other. unlike your parents, though, we will give gifts throughout the year rather than save those ideas for Christmas. case in point...my new camera or scott's cool coffeemaker.

i do like your memories of your parents giving to each other..and how that touched your heart as a child...so that is definitely something to reconsider. we do stockings so maybe that's enough though...hmmm...

i liked your statement about blessing people in whatever way seems appropriate w/out getting caught up in materialism.

as for other practical gifts...what about things like a gift cert from shutterfly so that a friend can have photos from Christmas printed? or actually taking photos of a friend's family for them, printing the photos, and giving them as a gift in a small album? i don;t think they have to be professional quality in order to be appreciated. think of how many families always have photos with one of the parents missing because he/she had to take the photo!

Tish said...

i always love to see that sweet photo of yu-lin in my comment box! thanks for your input!

kris said...

this is incredible.. sending it to my whole family, all my friends, thanks for sharing it-- this whole world needs to refocus !! and for those who don't follow christ, we need to focus on our common humanity-

Patricia/NYC said...

FABULOUS post!! And great suggestions by many! My SIL & I just had this conversation, to put back the real meaning in Christmas this year! LOVE IT!!

BTW, found you via Stefanie's site :)


Hauswife said...

Ooooh, cool vid! Yes, we've had this on our hearts, too, and are changing Christmas in our home... for the better. This year we put a cap on the number of gifts per person (3), cost, and time to be spent opening gifts. We're also implementing worship and devotional time first thing Christmas morning (as in before stockings) and also some goofy things like putting together a short play to perform at our large family gathering later. I'm honestly looking forward to this year more than I ever have before!

Hauswife said...

about the homemade christmas cards idea... yeah, it can be SUPER expensive! I made our cards for about 10 years because I really loved doing it. It was my creative outlet. :) But, as they got more and more elaborate, they also got more and more expensive. No can do anymore. Last year we bought cards and let me tell you it was really hard not making them. I MISSED not making them, not putting in the personal touch, not having that creative expression, but it saved us a ton of dough and me a TON of time. Totally worth it.

my 2 cents.

Cindy said...

Tish, I stumbled upon your blog and this post caught my attention because this subject has weighed on my heart lately and I've been praying about what to do this year. Like the video, it seems that every year my intentions are good...spend less $, more time, but I always give into the consumerism...why is that?
I'm planning a post like this on my blog hoping to gain some accountability from friends this year.

Anyway, I haven't read all the ideas here, but hope to in a moment. Here's what has been on my heart to do:
Scale down the gifts for the kids significantly. The three gift idea has always intrigued me but I could never do it...I'm going to try that this year. The $ we save will be given to a wonderful young woman who is a college student and "mother" to ten orphans in Uganda. She desperately needs the help to support these kids (plus around 150 children she pays for school tuition...amazing!). Her blog is incredible http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/
I'm also planning to make donations to her for teacher gifts. My kids are excited about it. We're planning to make cards and hopefully with her permission place a picture of her with the kids, her blog address and donation information. Let's face it, teachers get SO much s-t-u-f-f every year and I think they'll love a donation made in their name.
I'm also telling family and friends not to give us gifts, but to make a donation in our name.
Anything we think we need really isn't a need at all.
Do you mind if I "steal" your video for my blog post? You've inspired me! I've been thinking about doing a "challenge" like this to see if other bloggers and blog visitors would take the challenge as well.