Ben and I have been reading a book called The Advent Conspiracy, which challenges the perfunctory/last-minute/gifts-for-sake-of-gifts giving we often do at Christmas, and the low tenor we've culturally developed that more is more and more shows love.
Instead, because Christmas is such a personal gift with God's presence at it's very center, the authors challenge us to give gifts that are personal, that offer our own presence and spending time together, that may even be costly in time or creativity or thoughtfulness.
So we started brainstorming. Even the kids have been thinking. Eden was trying to think of something for her grandparents who live near the beach and decided to sweep their patio next time she comes in case it's sandy (which it never is). Silas, who watches me tug a brush through Eden's hair as she winces every morning, decided to buy her some nice-smelling conditioner (!) And along with a couple of other little things, we're giving each of the kids a present that involve spending time with us.
Eden and I went to New York a few weeks ago to throw Ben's sister a baby shower and have an retreat just the two of us. At the shower, I was talking to a lovely woman who owns a store in LIC whose philosophy is to sell only things that are fair trade or manufactured responsibly and humanely -- sickening to think about how many things are not manufacture that way. She said that it is definitely expensive to shop responsibly, especially for clothing, but that where she's landed is that it's our responsibility to do that, or if we can't afford it, then to buy consignment and thrift -- don't add to the landfills or fuel the fires of indecent labor around the world.
I was instantly convicted (especially about all my H&M purchases) because, of course, she is exactly right. I'd like to live and shop like that, also.
Then that afternoon I bought earmuffs and a hat for $12 combined from a street vendor… OH to live by our own convictions!! Maybe we get to start by baby steps. I sure hope those count for something.
Merry Christmas and enjoy each other's presences.