It is you know-
It is not owned by Hallmark, or Tescos, or Amazon.
You do not have to fill your house with expensive tat for it to be special. Or cover your house with flashing lights.
You do not have to eat your way through Marks and Spencer nor drink your way through Asda to feel as though it has been worth while.
In order to share it with family and friends, you do not need to load your credit card.
Gifts are not expensive mutual obligations- and they can be of huge value whilst still costing nothing.
Last year, we decided we wanted to do things differently at Christmas.
So we sent this letter to our friends and family-
Last year many of you bought us so many lovely things for Christmas. We are so grateful that you think so much of us that you would take the time to buy gifts.
We know that it is good to receive, and even better to give, but the most important thing to us is your friendship, and in this we are blessed.
But this year, we want to try to make Christmas a little bit different- for these reasons-
We have so much, and others so little
We think that the meaning of Christmas as a festival has been lost under all the commercial madness
Christmas can be so stressful for people- the pressure to shop and spend money at a time when things are very tight
We have talked about wanting to do something different, but have decided that it is now time to actually time to do something
So we would like to humbly suggest that you do not buy us gifts this year.
Some of you are very organised (and very kind,) so may already have bought things with us in mind. If so, it might be possible to give these things to other people, or if not- give them to us anyway!
If some of you would still like to give some kind of gift, then we are intending to make a collection for Oxfam- purchasing some ‘Oxfam unwrapped‘ gifts in the new year.
We really hope to find a way back to a more simple way of doing Christmas- and so most of the gifts we give this year will be things we have made, or commitments/promises. Please know that we think very highly of you, and hope that this Christmas is your best yet.
Chris and Michaela
And our friends respected our decision. We had a lovely time, and ended up gathering some money that might have made a difference to some people whose relationship to the earth is more immediate.
It felt like a start.
Because our house was still full of stuff. Presents still loaded out our Christmas tree.
This was partialy because we have kids- and applying the above set of principles is a very different challenge when you are 9 years old.
It was also because it is so hard to step off the Christmas merry-go-round.
But this year, we are determined to try again. And in discussion with friends, it seems we are not alone.
The current state of the economy might push us in this direction- but this is not really about tightening belts because of macro economics- rather (for us least) it is about trying to find an alternative way to celebrate Christmas.
Because we really love Christmas- as a chance to share, laugh, love and wonder. But those words ‘the true meaning of Christmas’ are perhaps so over used that they are worn out. It is for you to decide what meaning the festival brings into your life, and the life of your friends and family, but the one thing that we might agree on is that Christmas is not about money. It is not about debt. It is not about over consumption.
To this end, I have been experimenting with a Posterous site, entitled ‘Christmas is free’- here.
I will be posting a few things on there over the next weeks- please give it a shout and the odd visit if you think this is a message worth spreading.