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A good friend told me about “Hundred Dollar Holiday”,  a book by Bill McKibben, before Thanksgiving.  I requested it from the library, and devoured it as soon as I got it.  It is a great book to help you get a fresh perspective on Christmas.   Before I even read the book, Mike and I agreed that we were going to simplify things this year.  We planned to try to just spend $100 for gifts in order to keep consumerism to a minimum.  We wanted to make things, buy things used, and focus on the real meaning of Christmas.  We have done pretty well, but we did start a little bit late.  I have gotten a bit stressed here toward the final countdown just because I have had so much to do.  It is getting better now, so I am starting to relax.  I will post pictures of homemade gifts for family AFTER Christmas so that certain people won’t find out what they are getting in advance.  In the meantime I will show some snapshots of Daniel helping me make TONS of cookies for his classmates and teachers.  I am posting a long series of quotes from the book below so that you can be inspired.  🙂 

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From The Grinch:  “It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!”  After puzzling three hours till his puzzler was sore, the Grinch was forced to conclude that Christmas came from no store. 

     And so I breathed a sigh of real relief.  Not only was I not a grinch trying to wreck the meaning of Christmas, it was abundantly clear who the grinches of our culture really are:  those relentless commercial forces who have spent more than a century trying to convince us that Christmas does come from a store, or a catalogue or a virtual mall on the Internet.  Every day, but especially in the fall, they try hardest to turn each Cindy Lou Who into a proper American consumer- try their best to make sure her Christmas revolves around Sony or Sega, Barbie or Elmo.

… It wasn’t because we wanted a simpler Christmas at all.  It was because we wanted a more joyous Christmas.  We were feeling cheated- as if the season didn’t bring with it the happiness we wanted.  We were Christians, and we felt that the story of the birth of this small baby who would become our Savior, a story that should be full of giddy joy, could hardly break through to our hearts amid all the rush and fuss of the season.  And many of our friends, Christian or not, felt that too much of the chance for family togetherness was being robbed by the pressures of Christmas busyness and the tensions of gift giving. 

     Christmas had become something to endure at least as much as it had become something to enjoy- something to dread at least as much as something to look forward to.  Instead of an island of peace amid a busy life, it was an island of bustle.  The people we were talking to wanted so much more out of Christmas: more music, more companionship, more contemplation, more time outdoors, more love.  And they realized that to get it, they needed less of some other things: not so many gifts, not so many obligatory parties, not so much hustle. 

… The point is to emerge from Christmas relaxed, contented, happy to have kept this season.  To emerge closer to your family than you were when Advent began.  To emerge with some real sense that CHRIST HAS COME INTO YOUR WORLD. ”

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By the way, here is an incredible blog if you want to be inspired to meditate on the real meaning of Christmas.  Make sure your speakers are on so that you can soak up the beautiful meaning while you read:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/

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