Friday, November 30, 2007

Megan's Favorite Things Show

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas presents in the last couple weeks. I love giving presents. I love wrapping them, I love picking them out, and I love seeing how people will react to the presents. I really like giving presents that people get excited about. It is always disappointing when I give someone a gift and its just another gift. These are high standards, I know.

The bottom line is finding gifts that are meaningful. What makes gifts meaningful? What's meaningful for one person is not exciting to another person. I love making gifts for people, but not everyone wants a collage of pictures of our favorite memories. Not everyone appreciates the wonder of hand-made socks (its like wearing love on your feet).

One of the scriptures for this Sunday is Isaiah 2:1-5, which says that Jesus will "judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, either shall they learn war any more."

That Isaiah passage talks about turning from war and working together to provide for each other. Biblical Peace (Shalom) is a state where people are living in community and providing for each other, where no one is grasping for more than they need, and where no one has to fight for what they need.

So if we insist on giving gifts at Christmas (and I do love Christmas presents), the question becomes: Can we give gifts in a way that points to the gift God gave us in Jesus? I think so. We can give gifts that show love and affection (not just shopping ability), and we can buy gifts that are ethically produced. If is difficult to find gifts that are made in environmentally and socially ethical ways, but every little bit makes a difference. I've been doing some research over the past few months, so I have a few suggestions:

Do a book exchange. Have you read a book that you absolutely loved? Give a copy (or even better - your copy) to a friend or family member.

Make presents! Do you knit? Or scrapbook? Build stuff? Families can make Christmas cards together with whatever paper and magazines you have lying around.

Do something as a family or with a group of friends instead of giving presents. Go on a trip to DC or get tickets to a Broadway show. Memories (hopefully) last longer than most things, and if you have a bad memory you can take pictures.

Patagonia is a clothing company that I really like. They are pricey but they have good sales, and 1% of their profits go to environmental conservation. Some of their products are made of recycled fibers, organic cotton, and other environmentally friendly materials (ask me about my recycled shirts).

No Sweat is a company that makes sneakers and t-shirts that are guaranteed to be union made. They also use some organic cotton, comes from Bethlehem and is grown by both Palestinians and Israelis. They also sell vegan shoes and belts.

American Apparel is another company that promises fair labor. They also use some organic cotton. Warning: their pictures are kind of racy but nowhere near as bad as Abercrombie & Fitch.

Equal Exchange sells fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate. We sell a lot of this at our church!

Ten Thousand Villages distributes fairly made goods that benefit people in developing companies. There is a store off Main Street in Newark that sells some of this stuff.

Donate an animal to a family in need through Heifer International. Buy a bucket of chicken and feed your family for an hour. Buy a flock of chickens for a family and gift them a source of protein and income for years.

Sponsor a child through Compassion International or Food for the Hungry. About $30 a month can make a huge difference in a child's life. (Sponsoring a child has had an amazing impact on my life).

Do a gift exchange. If you have a lot of people in your family or group of friends, draw names instead of getting gifts for everyone. You can also have a gift swap/steal with a theme - this year I'm doing an eco-friendly gift swap with some friends. We hope to have fun and get ideas for ways to be more conscious about our habits.

Happy Giving!

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Blogger KreativeMix said...

happy fabulous giving to you too!!! These are great ideas!!!

1:22 AM  
Blogger B said...

I agree that it would be nice if people gave more meaningful gifts. With that in mind, I'll be giving you... a gun rack!! (Just kidding; that was a Wayne's World reference, though.)

Also, I think another issue is that people are more focused on getting a new "thing" than on the fact that a gift is (or should be) a sign of affection from someone. My family placed a lot more emphasis on cards, because that's where you spell out how you really feel about someone, and they keep most cards they get for a really long time (whereas cards nowadays have mostly become a disposable "accessory"). Also (another "eco-friendly" thing) my family never used to buy new gift wrap, but keep the ones they received and re-use it. I feel like those kinds of traditional things (saving "nice" paper, etc.) have fallen by the wayside now that U.S. society is much more materialistic and everything is disposable. I think in the past it was a much bigger deal to get a gift, and it said a lot about the person who was giving it to you. It would be nice if the intention of the giver was recognized as the real essence of the gift, not an "accessory."

Also, here's another interesting website for your list:

4:01 PM  
Blogger Megan Methodist said...

A gun rack? A gun rack. I don't even have A gun, let alone multiple guns that would necessitate a rack to keep them on.

Thanks for the comments though. :-)

11:12 PM  
Blogger B said...

Poop, that link I mentioned should be Clearly I had "choosing" presents on the brain, though.

1:15 PM  

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