Habits are hard to break. Change is difficult for all of us. It is easier to act our way into a new way of thinking than it is to think our way into new patterns of behavior. Therefore, this Christmas season, this season of hope, I am challenging all of us to consciously change the way we behave. I’m asking you to do something about the crazy Christmas season frenzy of buying and shopping. Every year many of us lament the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas, but this year let’s do something about it. We can’t change the behavior of the culture, but we can change our own individual behavior.
During Advent let’s conspire with each other and others around the world to do Christmas and its season differently. Join me once again as co-conspirators in The Advent Conspiracy. The Advent Conspiracy is a movement of individuals who pledge to drop out of the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas and take up the four tenets of the Conspiracy:
- Spend Less – Try to cut your spending in half this Christmas season. Make gifts, bake things, create art, write a song, make a video. When you do spend money, try to buy locally from craftspeople and small business owners thus keeping money in circulation in the local economy instead of contributing to the corporate profits of retailers who underpay their workers and don’t provide benefits health insurance or other benefits.
- Give More – Give more of yourself and your time. Intentionally spend time with family and friends playing games, sharing meals, or making gifts instead of going to the mall or the store to do Christmas shopping. The greatest gifts we can give each other truly can’t be bought in a store. Give more of the gifts that really matter, your presence, your time, and your attention to those you love.
- Love All – Take some of the money you didn’t spend and donate to worthy causes, such as refugee resettlement or clean drinking water initiatives or a homeless shelter. Spread some love beyond your family and friends. Intentionally make a new friend, someone who is different from you. Attend community events where there are people who don’t look like you. Learn a language so that you can speak with your neighbors who might be new to English.
- Worship Fully – The people who started Advent Conspiracy were Christians so for them this means praying and going to church, and doing it not out of habit, but with intention and awareness.Whatever your own spiritual practices are, such as meditation or yoga or walking or journaling or social justice activism or community service, pledge to recommit to them. Put them at the center of your life again, not on the margins where you get around to them if you have time.
This year join me in the Advent Conspiracy. Try to cut your holiday spending in half this year and pledge to donate half of what you save to Hopedale Unitarian Parish and the church will donate it to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Refugee Aid Fund http://www.uusc.org/updates/uusc-refugee-response. After all, Christmas is the story of a family of refugees who were turned away when they asked for room at the inn.
About ten years ago the members of the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Rochester N.Y, were challenged by their ministers to cut Christmas spending in half and donate it to charity. They raised $64,000.00! I wonder how much we could raise if we all conspired together?