Thursday, December 19, 2013

Win over Christmas commercialism

On October 23, 2006, the St. Cloud Times published a column I wrote about one family’s victory over the Christmas buying frenzy. Reluctantly, Yvonne and Jim Sexton agreed to be identified with their story “if good can come about because of it.” Here are Yvonne’s words:     

About seven years ago, while thinking about the commercialization of Christmas and my weariness about the whole season, I decided to try to raise our grandchildren's awareness of the REAL message of Christmas. I floated the idea with Jim and he liked it, so we began what has become a treasured tradition in our family.

In November we send each grandchild a check for [it could be any amount, say from $5 to $1000].  They are asked to find someone in need and make a difference in their lives. They can choose a project, individual, family, whatever. We encourage them to get personally involved if it is appropriate. Then they are to share their encounters, always respecting privacy of persons if appropriate.

Every year we have a Christmas party [with] a ritual around this experience. We begin with an opening prayer and a darkened room. A table has been prepared with many votive candles, one for each grandchild. One by one the kids tell their story of searching for a project or person in need.

After telling the story each child lights one candle “to light places darkened by desperation” and the family responds with prayer and song, such as “This Little Light of Mine.” Yvonne adds,

We have 19 grandkids, so this is quite a lovely scene. There are tears shed and it becomes deeply moving.

They finish with a little concert of Christmas carols featuring the talents of the grandchildren on piano, violin, and viola.
The idea is spreading. Yvonne contacted St. Bart's school in Wayzata and offered to fund classes that committed to carrying out such a project. In a ritual on the last day of school before Christmas, a representative of each class reported on the class experience. This was followed by lighting of candles, prayer, and song.  

The pastor liked it so much he shared the idea with his whole parish while encouraging them to get involved with the poor. The story was featured in the Star/Tribune.  
The whole Sexton family feels relief at being freed from the dictates of consumerism. Sexton married children often match their parents’ gift so that the grandkids have more to share with others. The grandchildren know how lucky they are. One wrote,

Thank you, Grandma and Papa, for giving me this opportunity to help those in need.

Another wrote,

I think everyone in our country should be aware of all the kids in the world that are starving, because America is probably the country that throws away and wastes the most food.

            Yvonne confessed,

One year I was a little late with the letter and check and I got a call from one of the grandkids saying, “We're going to do our special Christmas thing again, aren't we Grandma?”

A granddaughter at Maple Grove High School described the tradition in an English paper, and her teacher got the story published in a local paper.
May readers pass on this marvelous idea for restoring holiness to what used to be a holy time. Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

val said...

A gift of truth for you,
The woman of Rev 12 is not a church, nor Mary, nor Israel. She is the prophet like unto Moses Num 12:3 raised up of her brethren Acts 3:21-22 proving the power of God in the spirit of Elijah Matt 17:3, Luke 1:17, 1 Kings 18:37 to restore Matt 17:11 the true word John 1:1 that prepares a people for the lord's return by turning their hearts to all the children of God. God our Father will not put any child of his into a hell fire no matter what their sins, no matter if they repent in this life or not. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5.
Because I tell you the truth you believe it not John 8:44-45. Resist your carnal mind of hate, murder and revenge Rom 8:7 to hear the true Gospel Isa 55:8 going to the whole world as a witness Matt 24:14. Be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed 2 Tim 2:15.
*Acts 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
God's true word is now delivered and proven