Do a quick Google search for a combination of these two words: “Christmas” and “financial.” Pretty much all the search results will have one thing in common: They advise people to act now, or to act in a certain way, to avoid the “financial hangover” that comes with Christmas. For families that are not wealthy, it can be a time of year when debts are accrued and relationships are strained as a result of financial difficulty.
Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts to me at times, when I look at the bills that I need to pay off, only to add with a note of despair – “and there’s still Christmas to contend with!” Wait – contend with? How did this happen? Christmas is the time when Christians remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. It should be a time of joy and (nerd that I am) theological reflection (what better time to learn about the doctrine of the incarnation and read a little Athanasius?).
Shouldn’t all this be a blessing to us? Instead it has become a contributor to poverty, family bust ups, alcohol abuse and domestic violence. If you’re a Christian, there’s a special kind of offensiveness about this, a real disrespect and disregard. The celebration of the humble birth of the Son of God into a poor family, few gifts to speak of, little worldly acclaim at the time, has been transformed into a frantic orgy of spending, consumption, exploitation, greed and commercialism to the point where people will undermine the well-being of their family to take part in the gruesome game.
This is wrong in every way. Our children aren’t going to like it (but they will get used to it), but we’ve decided not to be a part of it. If you know us and might have been inclined to spend something on us, please don’t. If you really have to spend the money, buy a goat for a poor village in my name and drop me a line telling me about it. That’d be cool. But ideally, just don’t spend it at all (unless you were already going to give money to charity). Christmas was never meant to be about reaching into your wallet. It’s even less about lining other people’s wallets, people who get rich because of Christmas. The downside for others is that we won’t be buying them anything either. Instead of buying stuff with money we don’t have, wasting a good chunk of it by eating to excess and then clawing ourselves back to the state of affairs we’re in now, we’re doing something else. We’re going to celebrate Christmas. Feel free to do likewise.
Oh, and visit http://www.buynothingchristmas.org/