Thursday, December 14, 2006

'Tis the Season...

I've got a confession to make. I'm weak!!! I was determined this year NOT to get drawn into the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas. I had a plan. All I had to do was stick to the plan. What was the plan? The plan was to stay away from the malls - to do most of my Christmas shopping via CBM's gift catalogue (supporting various CBM ministries in honour of friends and family members) and only shop online or in store for specific items. A budget with no stretching. No browsing, comparison shopping, deal hunting. No frenzied shopping sprees. No late night ebay transactions. My focus would be on the softer details of the holiday season: creating memories, savouring time with family and friends, serious self-reflection, maintaining a generous spirit in the midst of all the chaos and busyness swirling about me, soaking in the songs of the season and deep contemplation of my favorite Advent devotional. By now you know the plan has been diverted. It's 11 days until Christmas the plan is pretty much in shambles. On more than one occasion (in fact with disturbing regularity!) I've gone into a mall with the best of intentions and ... lost my way? Looking for that one item on my list, I've wandered about stores, picking up this and that - wondering if I should perhaps revise my gift list, or possibly add to it - the prices are so reasonable, after all. There is a seductive allure in the buying but it leaves me feeling weak and guilty - even disoriented. Now, back in my office, it's quite clear. I am certainly not immune from the consumer bug. And it's not a matter of "knowing". I know better. I know that the people on my gift list are people who have everything they need and most of what they want. I know, on the other hand, that there are literally millions of people around the world who have inadequate access to food, water, shelter, clothing, health care, education... hope for the future. It's an uncomfortable tension. The gift catalogue idea is at least a partial solution. I can send money for:
  • a water project in El Salvador,
  • seeds, tools and farm animals in Bolivia, Kenya and Rwanda,
  • prison children in Bolivia,
  • books and bicycles for pastors in various developing countries,
  • community clinics in Kenya;
  • student sponsorchip in Angola, Bolivia and Indonesia,
  • Guardians of Hope in Africa (helping victims of the HIV/AIDS pandemic),
  • care for refugees in the Middle East,
  • care for marginalized children here in Canada,
  • support for a pastor in China or the Sudan,
  • community microcredit in India,
  • care for a family in India, or
  • ongoing support for CBM field personnel in countries around the world.

A little money can go a long way in the right hands! Last year my husband and I gave gifts to our families AND made donations of equal amounts through the CBM gift catalogue. We were a bit surprised and greatly encouraged with the response to this gifting strategy. It turns out that everyone on our list actually preferred to have money given in their name, rather than have another gift under the tree for themselves.

If you're interested in the gift catalogue, you can find details at:

Check it out. It's a great way to support the work of CBM and The Sharing Way while also honouring people on your gift list. And, it will free up more time for to really enjoy those softer aspects of the holiday season!!!

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