And then there's a dollar amount attached to each of the people I buy for. That's my budget. It's not a budget of "I can only spend $X total." It's a budget of "I have to make sure I spend the same amount of money on person 1 as person 2." Suffice it to say it gets expensive. That's one of the reasons I was so excited that my family is drawing names this year. It's cutting hundreds of dollars off my Christmas bills.
Another reason I am excited that I have to buy fewer gifts is because I can now take a large portion of the money I would have spent on impersonal gifts and I can spend that money on somone who really needs it.
The Advent Conspiracy movement is trying to achieve the same thing. I just learned about this movement yesterday and I love it. Here are some interesting facts from their website.
We recommend that before Christmas each organization take an offering made up of the money that was saved through relational giving and resisting the empire. With these funds each church and organization decides how to re-distribute the money. It is an amazing picture when you see how much money is collected and how much good it can do in the world. In 2006 only five churches participated and they collected just under half of a million dollars. Through this kind of radical giving we are transformed by the Advent story as we worship Jesus more faithfully.
The National Retail Federation was forecasting that Americans would spend approximately $457.4 billion at Christmas in 2006. The American Research group estimated an average of $907.00 per family to be spent at Christmas in 2006. After the Holiday we work for months to get out of debt, only to find that the presents we bought in the name of Christ furthered a consumerist mentality in us and our children and took our focus off of the greatness of Jesus. As Christ-followers, the Advent Conspiracy starts with us resisting a culture that tells us what to buy, wear and spend with no regard to bringing glory to Jesus.
Did you catch that $457.4 BILLION figure? And that's just Americans.
We are asking that each church and organization that participates designate at least 25% of the offering for clean water projects around the world. The vision is that in the next decade Christ- followers, acting as one people, can blot out the water crisis in the world. The estimated cost to solve the water problem is 10 billion dollars. This is doable given the number of churches and the amount of money that is spent on Christmas each year.
According to the World Water Council, 1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water; 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. 1.8 million People die every year from diarrheal diseases and 3,900 children die every day from water born diseases.