Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Commerciality of Christmas.

I was thumbing through a free November issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine the other day and felt my spirit slowly dishearten as I flipped each commercially-soaked holiday page. Christmas is already being marketed, even in early November, yet I did not find one reference to Jesus Christ in those 212 pages.

I found, instead, beautiful wealth, abundance, and amazing decor. Is this Christmas? Are these portrayed families surrounded by beautiful centerpieces and exquisite gift wrappings truly happy? Perhaps they are temporarily satisfied with this glossiness of our modern "holiday season," but how can you truly celebrate the Joy of this season without the baby Christ?

I wanted to shout, "Where is Jesus?" Can I celebrate my daughter's birthday without my daughter? Sure, I can invite lots of people, buy wonderful decorations and a beautiful cake, and even be happy with the festivities, but without my daughter, something very important is missing. Without my daughter, there really is no reason to celebrate!

Have we forgotten Christmas amidst this material "christmas?" Have we forgotten what happened to our world the night God entered the human race? Have we forgotten the billions of people who have not heard of Jesus Christ?

Here are only some of the startling statistics on our western consumerism:

  • $462 billion was spent during the 2010 holiday season, between November 1st and December 31st.
  • U.S. homes spend the first six months of every year paying off their Christmas debt.
  • Photos with Santa in American malls generate $2.3 billion dollars each year.
  • Visa cards are swiped 5,340 times per minute between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Only 44% of 7-11 year-olds regarded Christmas day as a celebration of the birth of Jesus.
  • On average, the western consumer spends over $500 on Christmas.
  • Some 800 million people in the third world are left hungry and undernourished. This includes 200 million children under 5 years of age.

So what can we do now? Is it hopeless? By no means. Each of us, as individuals and families, can set a Christmas budget and find new ways to have a frugal Christmas.

I personally recommend Gospel for Asia's Christmas Gift Catalog, where you can give gifts to the needy in honor of your relatives. We did this last year and intend to do it again. We still include a small gift to our family members along with a free card from GFA saying what we gave in each person's honor. This is especially wonderful for the kids on your Christmas list, as it teaches them that Christmas is not just about them and their gifts, but that there are suffering children around the world. For $1, you can send 200 Gospel tracts; for $3, a complete Bible. There are many other gifts from blankets to chickens to women's literacy classes that you can also give.

GFA is a Gospel-first ministry, acknowledging that above else, the world needs Jesus Christ. GFA also gives 100% of your donation to the mission field and/or place specified.

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to order and read GFA's founder, KP Yohannan's free book, Revolution in World Missions. It will alter, for the better, your perspective on our American wealth and our part as western Christians in today's world and Great Commission. This book has affected how I spend every dollar.

So starting now, as the commercial holiday season winds up, may we be wise stewards of God's money and may we not forget Christmas.

Do you have any frugal tips for gift giving, food prep, decorating, etc... to share with us? I'm interested in putting together some tips for Fru-Gal readers (and myself)!


  1. Thanks for the link to the GFA catalog- I'm now seriously considering giving in honor of my parents and sisters this Christmas!

  2. Amen! We have been so convicted of our past "shallow" celebrations of the season and not focusing on the REAL meaning of the holiday. This year we are limiting our children to 1 gift each ~ which they may or may not receive on 12-25. We are going to focus our day on family, yummy food, games, puzzles, etc. We even did away with stockings and all that money has gone toward stuffing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

  3. That's wonderful, Loni! I'd love to hear if you decide to use the GFA gift catalog. And thank you, Greg and Donna... it is so easy to fall into the trap of consumerism at Christmas, since we are overwhelmingly bombarded by it, and I love the suggestions of what your family is planning on doing this Christmas to focus on Christ. Amen to that! :)