Saturday, November 23, 2013

Unplug the Christmas Machine!

I can't believe the time for my annual Jeremiad about the commercialization of Christmas is here again.
Stores are opening for Christmas shopping ON THANKSGIVING DAY?

I've taught a workshop called "Unplug the Christmas Machine" (based on a book of the same name, plus other materials such as Hundred Dollar Holiday and To Dance with God) about a dozen times The focus of the book is on putting more love and joy into the holiday. I add some ideas about saving money and making the holiday more spiritual.
The heart of Unplugging the Christmas Machine is the Christmas Pledge, which people are asked to sign and post in their home:

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the true spirit of Christmas, I commit myself to... 
* Remember those people who truly need my gifts 
* Express my love in more direct ways than gifts 
* Examine my holiday activities in the light of my deepest values 
* Be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends 
* Rededicate myself to my spiritual growth

 (Find a leader's guide for an Unplug the Christmas Machine workshop here.) The thing is, I loooove the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season. I love observing both religious and family-oriented traditions, holiday baking, Christmas music and decorating for the season. 
One of our holiday traditions--an Advent calendar of new socks for the children. Each sock contains candy for each child.

Another great Advent tradition is The Jesse Tree. For each day there is an ornament and a Bible story that starts with the Creation story and leads to the Christmas story. Find instructions, and a link to downloadable ornaments that kids can color and make themselves, here.
Little ones love coloring these.

With a little imagination it's easy to bring spirituality into your home. Here is a simple Advent wreath. 
Almost everyone could create this or something similar. Find a devotional guide here.

I enjoy natural decorations both inside and outside my home. Here are directions for making your own evergreen garlands. I use yard clippings and discarded/pruned branches from the Christmas tree.

I also like decorating with cranberries and other edibles.

These decorations are beautiful, inexpensive and earth-friendly, and in some cases even edible, which makes them even more affordable.

I hope you find these ideas inspiring. If you use any of them I would love to hear about it.

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