**Every year, I release this post as a way to put this season in perspective. I’ve updated the organizations to whom I contribute from years past to reflect my philosophy on supporting only those organizations and people whom I know personally, those who are all in, those in the arena with bloodied knuckles and fevered brows. These are the folk I would recommend with all my heart that you consider supporting with your time, talent, treasure, and resources as well.
It is estimated that this year, Americans will spend an average of $450 billion dollars (or $854 per person) during the busiest commercial holiday in our country: Christmas.
Now, I certainly do not wish to be painted as a Scrooge.
I love seeing my kids’ faces light up when Santa brings them just what they ask for; in fact, we even go so far as to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas, when Santa’s elves fill their stockings with a new, little gift each night leading up to Christmas. And, of course, I love getting gifts!
The problem, however, was pointed out to me by the wisest prophet I know, my nine year old son, when, after taking a look at all the decorations in our home, he said, “We have all this stuff about Christmas, but only a little about Jesus.”
And that, for me, is the rub. As a dad who is desperately trying to shape intentionality for my kids, I fear that the culture of consumerism and consumption will be what Christmas comes to mean for them. Our house now is so full to overflowing with broken toys from Christmases past that I can barely take a step without crushing a Lego house, tripping over a two-stringed guitar, or crunching to death a plastic triceratops.
As I think about this Christmas season, I look around me and see that my kids do not need one more present this year. In fact, accumulating more presents just creates a spirit of entitlement that counters the very generosity I hope becomes part of their lifetime DNA.
Instead, my hope is that Christmas becomes a celebration of the presence of meaningful people in their lives, beyond the presents they will soon forget.
It is my wish that the presence of God in their lives becomes the real source of shalom for them; that the presence of family offers a safe environment for them to grow in wisdom, virtue and moral courage; that the presence of suffering and injustice in society challenges them to be architects of repair in the world, capable of bringing light to dark places.
To this end, I support the great work being done by a group called “Advent Conspiracy” that seeks to “turn Christmas upside down” by focusing on worshiping fully, spending less, giving more, and loving all. They challenge the status quo that Christmas has to be about traffic jams, crowded malls, and bad sweaters.
Their challenge is to give more time, money, and resources to those who truly need it: the poor, hungry, hurting, lonely, fatherless, etc. To turn some of that $854 into clean water, sustainable agriculture, transformative education, loving homes, full bellies, and great big hugs.
According to the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme, it is estimated that it would cost somewhere around $20 billion to solve the global water crisis. That’s less than 5% of what’s spent in this country during one holiday shopping period in December.
To this end, I conspire that this advent season, more of my time, money and resources will go to the following organizations that sow goodness in my local (OKC) community. (These are the projects that I believe in. I make it a point to only support organizations run by people I know personally):
The Spero Project: a non-profit in OKC dedicated to making all things new by standing shoulder to shoulder with the oppressed by mobilizing community in under-resourced areas (particularly in the realm of foster care, marginalized women, community development and the international refugee population)
The 111 Project: a non-profit in OKC dedicated to leaving no child without a family, ever!
New Land Academy: a school whose intent is to bestow identity, cultivate passions, call out purpose, and unleash dreaming in students from marginalized communities
This holiday season, I invite you to conspire with me to spend less, give more, worship fully, and love all! It’s a call to radical generosity. To rethink how we spend our lives. To live intentionally. To plot blessing.
Will you join me?