When our children were young we attended a church that held an Alternative Christmas each year. The fellowship hall was turned into a marketplace where families could shop for goods made in third-world countries. You may be thinking, 'I can go to any store and buy goods made in third-world countries', and while this is true, the difference is in how the workers are paid. Where does the money go? to a large corporation that pays its employees very little, or straight back to the craftsman?
Along with being able to buy tangible goods that you could keep or give as Christmas gifts, Alternative Christmas sold things like Bibles, mosquito nets, water filters, goats, chickens, water buffaloes, garden tools, etc. You paid a certain sum for each item that you wished to purchase and the monies went back to poverty-stricken countries, providing the gifts that you had chosen for people who were in desperate need.
Over the past year, Mac has invested in Kiva, and has also gifted money in my name for my birthday and Mother's Day. Autumn has sponsored a child from Compassion International. Just this past week, she asked me if I'd like to have a chicken, given in my name, as my Christmas gift, and I answered with a whole-hearted, "Yes!"
We asked our children several months ago what they would think about forgoing Christmas gifts this year so that we, as a family, could sponsor a child through Compassion. We have no desire to go into debt for Christmas, and our children have all of their needs met. Each one of them agreed that this was a better idea than obtaining more stuff, and it turns out that the amount we will spend to sponsor a child is almost exactly what we would spend on our four children combined at Christmas. The fun (and difficult) part will be choosing who to sponsor.
Instead of anticipating gifts under a tree, we've been preparing to welcome the Christ-child by studying an Advent devotional every evening after supper. We're enjoying the slower pace of the season, haven't had to deal with crowds, and we're finding joy in giving to others.
Sound intriguing? Here's a list of resources that might be useful in making your own Alternative Christmas:
It's so easy to count my blessings when I see those who are struggling. I pray that I can be more like Christ, willing to sacrifice, that others may have plenty.
~ having plenty, even if that means eating eggs several times a week
~ December oranges
~ hot coffee, warming my hands as well as my insides
~ a good MRI result for Verne, meaning...
~ no surgery! just a cast for several weeks
~ a fresh Christmas tree
~ children eager to hear the evening's devotion
~ popcorn, strung with cranberries for the tree
~ and for eating!
~ two birthdays in one week- both fine men, father and son
~ phone calls from loved ones
~ anticipation of being with family for Christmas for the first time in 12 years
~ quilts and afghans to snuggle under
~ tokens of friendship from friends far away
~ Christmas cards and letters received in the mail
~ jam sales
~ pretty new fabric
~ clean closets
Join us with the counting?