Wednesday, November 28, 2012

turning Christmas upside-down & Nativity 2.0

Filmed in Waco, TX  - We posted the 4th annual video on December1, 2010. 

The video (below) was put on the internet exactly 12 days later. 

Our amazing idea felt less amazing right about then, but for 12 whole days we thought we were pretty darn clever.  Theirs went viral. Ours got mean comments. "You suck at Christmas digital story-telling" did not stick on the good-natured possessor of a healthy self-image, one Troy Livesay. Our version is not quite so fancy, we concur. 

But - our video has an awesome Ross King song, and he'd be the first to tell you that he is famous among dozens. So.there.

Turning Christmas Upside-Down ... You are free to conspire.

For the last few years we've participated in 'the conspiracy' by changing how we do Christmas. We have been blessed.  Our extended family has been blessed. None of us "need" anything for Christmas. When we "need" something, we almost always have the ability to just go get it.  When we "want" something we rarely wait very long. Technically we're all pretty aware that delayed gratification could do us some good. 

The great needs of the world are not at our house.
Just outside our front gate, the needs are vast, overwhelming, shocking, abhorrent, and so.very.real.

Of course there are many times when a gift is an act of sacrificial love, and is given from the heart - we have received that from others and we hope we do that FOR others whenever possible.

Our kids get little treats from visitors all throughout the year, they've been blessed abundantly by friends and strangers showing up with goodies and fun gifts. While we don't buy Christmas gifts, we're not talking about never giving gifts. We're talking about the gifts that we all buy because we are "supposed to" and because a consumer driven and materialistic culture might tell us we have to do it in order to be happy. We're talking about buying into the messages being sent by advertisers that we need the newest everything.

I figure I watched two entire season of Mad Men and that qualifies me to emphatically state that advertising is a tool of the enemy meant to make you feel unsatisfied with your life and your belongings.
Oh, fine, that is hyperbole, but not by much. 

A friend said, "That is sad that your kids don't get a lot of gifts on Christmas morning." It's not actually sad if something changes at a core level and it is not the expectation.  We're done with commercialism-Christmas-as-usual.  We are planning to continue on in the spirit of giving by giving to those with great needs and giving our time to one another again this year.  

A few years back when we started cutting out gifts we took our kids to a hotel for one night and they loved it. We enjoyed family time and enjoyed the gift of each others company. We had a blast. We did the same hotel the next year. Last year we went to the Dominican Republic together. That week was one of my favorite weeks ever. This year we'll take time away from our home and work and spend family time at the beach and going hiking together.  We so want Christmas at our house to be focused on the gift of His birth and the gift of one another. Time spent together in intentional ways is the main objective.  There is no pressure to shop on-line and find the perfect thing for anyone.

I bought my Dad a necktie every Christmas for about thirteen years in a row ... I've officially given that up. His life seems to be quite the same - sans that enthralling gift every December 25. 

Advent Conspiracy challenges us all to take a look at our habits and to "do Christmas" in a way that is personal. One way to make it personal is to support an organization or missionary that you feel God is placing on your heart.  The Advent Conspiracy video spotlights International Justice Mission. IJM does such important and difficult work.  They tried to work in Haiti but found the judicial system too fractured. They are worthy of support as are the many organizations and people working toward emancipation along-side the Haitian people.  Heartline Ministries and Real Hope for Haiti are two of our very favorite ministries working to love and serve in this country. There are so many others to choose from and consider in Haiti and around the world. 

Maybe the Advent conspiracy is just a way to begin thinking through our choices. Maybe it is not an all or nothing thing, maybe it is a decision to be more aware of wants vs. needs. Maybe it is a decision to draw names instead of being pressured to buy something for everyone. Maybe it is a decision to choose a "family gift" and pick a ministry or non-profit to give to together. Maybe some purchases this time of year are only out of habit and obligation. Maybe it is simply something to give further consideration. 

"Christmas was meant to change the world. 
It still can. 
Worship more. Spend less. 
Give more. Love all." 

-advent conspiracy