By Jon Maurer, Pastor of the Vineyard Church
A man was shot trying to buy a game system at a toy store on Black Friday a couple of years ago. As he lay there with a new video game system in his hands, he cried out to a family member, “Please, buy this for my kids!”
We have become radical consumers in our culture. Somehow, more has become best. Somehow, stuff has replaced “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” I am guilty, too. Our heart in buying is to give to show love. I want my kids to have good things, and I want to feel great about giving beautiful things to the people I love.
Giving is not the problem. It’s the quantity. It’s the indulgent practice of going into debt trying to give. It’s the time wasted trying to get the gifts that could be time spent with those we love who will receive them. It’s the money wasted on excess that gets thrown away, because it wasn’t quality—it was a gazillion small Dollar Tree stocking stuffers (Can I get a witness?).
What is the alternative? How can we improve our experience? I think the answer is to simplify. Recently, our family has been on a journey to de-clutter. In fact, if you came to our house, you would wonder what we have minimized, because we still have way. too. much. One thing we have learned is that purchasing heaps of things does not equal a better life, but only replaces experiences we could have with our family.
Here are some ways our family is attempting the holiday season this year through applying simplicity. First of all, we are going to minimize our time on purchasing gifts. We will use online shopping and maybe head out into the hustle and bustle once or twice for the people watching. Second, we will reduce our gifts to quality over quantity, reducing the amount, but bringing the biggest smiles! We will also look for unique things to give–clean water to a family living in a village overseas or a livestock animal that will help sustain a life in a third world country. And last, but most importantly, we will create space for the people we love. Many meals, game time together, fewer electronics, and parties will equal memories created. So be inspired to pare down presents and increase presence together this year. Merry Christmas! ■