Chirstmas is about presence not presents

Tip of the santa cap to Chalice Chick and the Advent Conspiracy.

Last year my good friend Rev. Hank Peirce, the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Medford, MA asked his church to cut their holiday gift budget in half from the previous year (2006) and give the difference to charity. He far exceeded his goal of raising $5,000 for organizations doing what Jesus talked about: feeding the poor, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick, housing the homeless. In a piece that ran in his local Medford paper last year, Hank said, that the average American spends around $800 on Christmas, but at Hank’s congregation the figure was closer to $650, and the total spent by the entire congregation was upwards of $40,000.
That’s an amazing amount of money on Ninento Wii’s and Tickle Me Elmos. Our household has been conscious of the American overconsumption frenzy at Christmas for a number of years now, baking and making gifts and focusing on spending less and doing more, but Hank’s project kicked it into another gear.
Hank got the idea from the UU Church in Rochester, NY where Ministers Scott Taylor and Karen Anderson challenged their congregation to cut their holiday spending in half and raise $50,000 for charity. The Rochester congregation responded by raising $68,000. What did the Rochester church do with the money? – $18,000 went to a relief fund for well digging in Honduras and $50,000 went toward a charity for families who have suffered from inner city violence.

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