There can be an undercurrent of guilt-tripping in some of the recent campaigns to redeem Christmas generosity. Programs like Advent Conspiracy are great. (Our family started our own version last year where we spent money on those in need instead of each other and then shared about who we helped and why with each other on Christmas morning.) The subversion of materialism and consumerist idolatry is a very, very good thing. But let’s be careful not to take pride in it or to shame those who, you know, buy gifts for each other.
One of my concerns is that programs like Advent Conspiracy or even rhetoric meant to shame Black Friday shoppers become ways materialistic Christian suburbanites do penance for their year-long accumulation. But year-end rebuke of consumerism doesn’t mitigate consumerism the rest of the year. Instead — and how’s this for a novel concept? — let’s just be generous people, year-round.
There’s nothing wrong with giving gifts to friends and family. There’s nothing wrong with even buying those gifts, rather than making them. And there’s nothing wrong with trying to save money when buying those gifts. Gift-giving is good, and so is saving money on gifts you were going to buy anyway.
Flee consumerism this holiday season. But flee also smug abstention.