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.
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This brief, eloquently presented book offers a simple and inviting strategy for handling the most complicated holiday of our times--Christmas. Reacting to the commercialization and overspending that has come to define it, author Bill McKibben (The End of Nature) argues in favor of only spending a hundred dollars at Christmas. Rather than grousing about the deterioration of Christmas, McKibben matter-of-factly explains that there was a time that giving extravagant presents may have been a satisfying and meaningful ritual. "The Christmas we now celebrate grew up at a time when Americans were mostly poor ... mostly working with their hands and backs," he writes. If we now feel burdened and unsatisfied by the piles of gifts and overconsuming, it is not because Christmas has changed all that much, he adds, "It's because we have."
What we need and long for now are the gifts of time, meaningful family connections, periods of silence, a relationship with the divine, McKibben writes. How to give and receive the Christmas gifts that matters? Make homemade presents (he even offers a chapter's worth of great ideas). Give children coupons for zoo visits or an evening devoted to playing board games. It's likely that McKibben, a former staff writer for The New Yorker, could launch a national movement with this inviting and sensible concept. But no matter how many dollars you spend, factor the cost of this book into your Christmas budget! --Gail HudsonAbout the Author:
Bill McKibben is the bestselling author of The End of Nature, The Age of Missing Information, and The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, he lives in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.
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