Stealing Christmas from the Rich

An acquaintance of mine recently made a decision to shift his whole way of looking at Christmas. He decided that it was foolish to spend $500 on trinkets, socks, and CDs as gifts for friends and family who needed no such things. Instead, he is taking the money he would have spent on these gifts and giving to Blood:Water Mission.

For each person on his Christmas list, he is giving a donation to B:WM in their name. He is informing each person–probably with a message in a Christmas card–that their name is on a gift that has been sent to another continent. This gift will help “to build clean wells in Africa, to support medical facilities caring for the sick, to make a lasting impact in the fight against poverty, injustice and oppression in Africa through the linking of needs, talents and continents, of people and resources” (from B:WM’s web site).

Great idea, huh? Apparently not. Some members of his family have, in Grinch-like spirit, expressed their displeasure over his decision. They are upset about being “forced to support an organization they know nothing about.”

This kind of thinking drives me nuts. First, my friend never required anyone else to do the same for him , nor did he say that everyone else is morally required to do this just because he is.

Second, he didn’t choose a controversial political organization to support in this endeavor. B:WM is an organization that is providing clean drinking water for people that are dying because they drink bacteria-laden water EVERY DAY. If we saw the water they were drinking, we wouldn’t even suffer a sip. They also minister to the lepers of our day: AIDS patients.

What could he possibly give that would be more meaningful? He’s not making a statement about who to vote for, how to think, or what to buy. He is helping people who are desperate in their need, and putting his family member’s names on the donation.

In other words, he is toppling the Christmas apple cart and giving fruit to the poor.

For many of us, it’s too late for this year, but I wonder what Christmas would look like if we cut our gift-giving budget in half and gave the other half to an organization that is making a difference in the world in the name of Christ.

If you try it, you may upset some people who enjoy the status quo. Won’t that be fun?

3 thoughts on “Stealing Christmas from the Rich

  1. I decided to take part in a Christmas Challenge to match all gift giving with giving to those in need and spending less. In an effort to do that I decided not to draw names with the family but instead give to someone in need…some other family members followed suit…but there were some grinchy ones that threw a wee temper tantrum….seems like the subject of giving isn’t as friendly as I thought it was. Sad!

  2. While I believe we are called to seek justice, do mercy, and give generously, especially during the Christmas season; and while I also believe we in America could stand to go a Christmas or two without nary a gift under our tree in order to pour our resources into those in much need; I want to add one point to this brilliant post.

    As someone whose main love language is gifts (gift giving and receiving), I find a great value in giving someone a gift, even someone who supposedly doesn’t need another DVD, CD or pair of socks.

    Unless we have flippantly regifted an ugly sweater or taken less than two seconds to pop someone an iTunes gift card via email, we have put some level of thought, care and time into gift-giving. And that is an act of valuing someone. It shows them that we care…and that we KNOW them. That we hear them when they mention their likes, their dislikes, what their heart beats for.

    I’m all for cutting back on the trappings that move us further from the core of Christmas. And I’m definitely for making donations in a family member’s name, since that’s what Jason and I did this year with each person on our list. But I’m also all for the act of gift giving. Because the people I walk with on my day-to-day journey need to know I care about them just as much the thirsty AIDS victim on another continent.

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