What would it look for us to pause and take a step back this Advent season? To take a moment to consider how we celebrate before the festive frenzy begins and our experience of the season is characterised by tiredness, busyness and feeling overwhelmed.
Don’t get us wrong, we are all for celebrating Christmas with vigour. The joy and hope of being gifted Jesus, our Wonderful Counsellor, mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace is definitely worth celebrating. But perhaps it is worth contemplating what Christmas traditions we are following simply for traditions’ sake. What are we doing only because we feel we should or because ‘that’s the way it’s done’?
Perhaps this Christmas we can do things a little differently. After reflecting on the love and generosity shown to us through the gift of Jesus, we can respond in a way which is loving and generous toward our community.
One of the (many) wonderful things about Jesus is that in him there is rest. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
In Jesus there is freedom from labour and striving for God’s acceptance. In Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection we see that God loves us and he has freely offered us forgiveness, life and hope.
This Advent season let’s consider how we can minimise the noise, the clutter and the ‘busy’, and make Christmas a reflection of the rest, joy and hope that Jesus brings. Let’s celebrate in a way that is simple and thoughtful.
Here are some great ideas
1.‘Love language’ giving
Before endeavouring to find gifts for your loved ones, perhaps you can reflect on whether that’s the best way to show you love them. Giving and receiving gifts is a language of love for some, but for others it may be: quality time, receiving words of affirmation, acts of service or physical touch. Perhaps thoughtful words of affirmation, or helping with household tasks would be more meaningful for them. You could even gift someone an act of service like cooking by outsourcing from an organisation like Sydney’s Dinner on the Table.
2. Embrace simplicity
If you’re after gifts for your loved ones, perhaps we can take a leaf from Marie Kondo’s book. We can seek simple items which have meaning and spark joy, rather than seeking excess. Purchasing online may be a useful way to save some time and hassle.
3. Sustainable options
Sustainable gifts are also a win win for both the recipient, and people throughout the supply chain. Sites like Nourished life stock thoughtful brands including Ethique and Salt and Glow. You could even get creative with handmade gift ideas like DIY granola or potted plants. Bulk food stores like The Source or Naked Foods have a range of ready-to-go gifts. You could also scour op-shops for second-hand treasures or buy experiences, not things. How about gifting a workshop at an urban farm near you, or a dance class for a bit of fun.
4. Support local makers
Alternatively, you could take a friend, and head to a market near you. Some ideas to get you started are: Sydney’s Etsy made local, Finders Keepers, Blak Markets, or Melbourne’s Dumbo Feather Christmas fete. You could also visit your nearest famers markets for some local honey or other treats to gift and share.
5. Give gifts of hope
Your purchase can bring hope to local or global communities. On the home front, to support drought-affected communities with your gifts, check out #buyfromthebush or Go Country for Christmas to buy from regional businesses like Fig hill Farm.
You could also give gifts which provide hope and healing to communities across the world through TEAR! Our Useful Gifts range from chickens and goats to vegetable gardens and toilets, supporting communities in Australia and across the world. There is even the option for Useful Gifts with a build-your-own popup village! Perhaps a useful gift could reflect something you know your recipient is passionate about, be it education, health, agriculture, or good food.