Days 365+111 Advent wreath.Traditionally the time leading up to Christmas is a time of shopping. It is also the time that my own nuclear family again faces the question of how we are going to celebrate the holidays and what will we do about gift giving. In the past we have ranged from buying a gift for everyone, to drawing names, to our “Nothing New Christmas.”

Perhaps it is a function of getting older, but lately I’ve found myself feeling even more accosted by the persistent radio, TV, and newspaper ads urging me to buy more stuff to make the holidays memorable. I ignore the ads but I think it weighs down our culture and raises unnecessary expectations of what will make me happy. I can’t singlehandedly change the marketing industry. (Hey, they’re only doing their job so they can make money to buy their own Christmas gifts – or perhaps just pay the rent.) Sometimes, however, humor can impact our attitudes and clear our minds more easily than sermons. I offer you Jerry Seinfeld’s 5 minute sketch, There’s Too Many Things.

I’m not saying don’t buy anything or don’t try to please your family, but this might put it in perspective. Some things are just impulse or duty gifts that quickly become clutter. Consider how you might bring joy to others during this month (sing, dance, read and talk together, or other creative activities).

On New Year’s Day I’ll suggest some strategies for clearing whatever clutter you may have accumulated – despite your best efforts.