Too many people have come to dread the approach of the holidays, a season that should -- and can -- be the most relaxed, intimate, joyful, and spiritual time of the year. In this book, Bill McKibben offers some suggestions on how to rethink Christmastime, so that our current obsession with present-buying becomes less important than the dozens of other possible traditions and celebrations.
Working through their local churches, McKibben and his colleagues found that people were hungry for a more joyful Christmas season. For many, trying to limit the amount of money they spent at Christmas to about a hundred dollars per family, was a real spur to their creativity -- and a real anchor against the relentless onslaught of commercials and catalogs that try to say Christmas is only Christmas if it comes from a store.
McKibben shows how the store-bought Christmas developed and how out of tune it is with our current lives, when we're really eager for family fellowship for community involvement, for contact with the natural world, and also for the blessed silence and peace that the season should offer. McKibben shows us how to return to a simpler and more enjoyable holiday.
Christmas is too wonderful a celebration to give up on, too precious a time simply to repeat the same empty gestures from year to year. This book will serve as a road map to a Christmas far more joyful than the ones you've known in the past.
Environmental author McKibben makes an impassioned plea for a less consumer-oriented, more meaningful Christmas celebration. But this book is more than just an echo of the recent vogue for simplicity. Tracing the history of American observance of the holiday season, McKibben discusses both the needs such festivities have filled and the excesses and problems they have created. McKibben avoids the trap of nostalgia for a nonexistent time when Christmas was free of commercialism or drunken reveling, but he recognizes the current holiday frenzy, dread and depression as symptomatic of "the underlying discontent in our lives." He offers thoughtful "new forms of celebration" to fill the cravings for "silence and solitude," "connection with each other and the natural world" and "some relationship with the divine" that plague these times. McKibben also blasts "those relentless commercial forces" that lead Americans to annual overspending. Instead, he suggests making the holidays as much fun as possible, filled with song and food, creativity and connection. One hundred dollars, McKibben says, is not a magic number or even the point, but rather a simple reminder "to give things that matter." Begun as a project for the author's rural Methodist church, this slim book offers us tips on giving one another the priceless Christmas gifts of time, attention and fellowship.