Utne #3

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Utne #3 entitled "The $100 Christmas" by: Bill Mckibbin.

The $100 Christmas, is an article that argues the Modest and Traditional Christmas against the Christmas that is consumed by lavish gifts for everyone. A short overview of the article tells of a family who's tradition is going to chop down their tree on Christmas eve, decorate it and then going off to church to spend quality time together, versus the spendy Christmas, where we frantically try to find gifts that will please everyone while spending a hefty amount of money.

Which is better? Which is right? Everyone has their own particular feelings on this issue, which is neither right or wrong, better or worse.

The article goes on to tell us about The $100 Christmas, and how it came into existance. The United Methodist Church of Northern New York and Vermont conference, started the campaign for the "Hundred Dollar Holidays." Their plea was for families not to exceed spending $100 on gifts towards each other, but to instead, rely on presents of services or gifts that were homemade or from the heart.

There seemed to be a problem with this idea with a certain group of people, mainly those being the merchants. Sustaining the $100 Christmas among families would affect the economy drastically, which is when they make their most money. This is a good point and arguement. But, if you want to scaleback at Christmas, you're going to have to start somewhere and somehow, right?

Scaling back at Christmas isn't done to try to hurt the economy. It's to try to find joy and relaxation around the holiday time and to not feel so guilty and rushed to buy all kinds of gifts.

I find it extremely easy to get caught up in all of the material aspects of Christmas. Buying for people, and wanting for myself the most expensive and lavish gifts (which of course I never get). However, I would, in a split second, give up all that I've become accustomed to, with the extravagant Christmas's and the piles of gifts that people expect, just to have that traditional or modest Christmas back in our family. I'd love to go out and cut down my own tree, and go for a hayride. Then we would be off to a candlelight Christmas service where we'd hear about the birth of Jesus Christ and sing Christmas Carols all night long. After that, we would come home to a warm fireplace and sip hot cocoa or hot cider with family and friends until our eyes became heavy. That is my idea of Christmas. I don't think it should be all about how much money we spend on gifts and if we spent enough money on John's or little Jake's present. It should be about family and friends, and remembering the true meaning of Christmas, which I'm afraid has gotten tossed by the wayside for many. I'm in favor of the $100 Christmas, because it would work for me.

-- Anonymous, June 10, 1999


Very interesting article and you provided a good summary of what the author was trying to convey:celebrating the meaning behind the commotion. I appreciated your reflections on how you wished to celebrate Christmas and how the $100 Christmas would/could impact merchants,since that is the time of year they bring in the most $$$.

However, since this is a Graduate program you are in, please try to think and respond to articles with some expanded thinking and possible solutions to dilemmas. Just because the $100 Christmas would immediately impact merchants doesn't mean that the merchants couldn't adjust to having their income spread out more over the year. You could still get those lavish gifts, but instead of hoping for them at Christmas, you could be surprised at some other time of the year. Instead of spending $500+ at each Christmas, the $500 could be spread out over different months, even different holidays. The merchants could still prosper, and the gift giving would still continue. In fact, to celebrate Christmas in a more family centered manner might inspire more gift giving. Merchants might even respond by selling more material for homemade projects, etc.

Try to expand your thinking, because if we stop thinking of solutions or other ways of living, life will continue out of our control. Remember, the task at Graduate School is to move beyond description, into analysis and end with synthesis.

-- Anonymous, June 21, 1999

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