Here?s a new approach to Christmas

?Christmas can (still) change the world. This year, Give Presence? ?Advent Conspiracy


Somehow, in the midst of the overwhelming cynicism circling the holidays, my excitement for it never diminishes.

On Sept. 1, I start to nonchalantly gear up in my head. I label September as my favorite month of the year because, as much as I love summertime, I just can?t help it?fall has a bigger piece of my heart. It might be the red leaves, my fireplace, snuggling with a quilt and whoever happens to be on the couch (within reason), or huge crockpots of soup.

Fall is the gateway to Christmas. The name still sends the right kind of shivers down my spine. I love everything about it, from the threat of a Christmas Eve blizzard to the words that make it what it is:

?Believe. Joy. I want to be?a dentist!? (?Rudolph and The Island of Misfit Toys? ?Her?mey! Remember?)

Christmas was always a big deal in my family. Although I haven?t gone in years, the Midnight Masses of my childhood have never been touched by another service since.

Every year without fail, it seemed like the black sky was crystal clear, stuffed with stars. And when I looked up from my backseat window on the way home after Mass, I always saw the red glow I was searching for.

It was effortless and magical. I credit my parents for that, it set me up for lifelong affair with the season.

(I should give a shout out to my older brothers, who hung elf legs and feet off of the roof one year, right outside my parents? bedroom window. The elf seemed to be either in mid-fall or mid-climb. I?m not sure what their intentions were with that stunt but I still get a little nervous around horizontal-striped socks.)

Aging brings a different aspect of the season. The reason for the season is, as always, effortless, but the magic is premeditated by the powers that be, i.e. moms and dads. I am grateful for that role now. I openly admit to my history of going overboard with gift buying, sometimes starting in June and ending the week after Christmas with one more bargain gift I grabbed at a New Year?s sale.

I can see why some people are completely turned off by the hype. It?s out there. But resentment for the whole ordeal isn?t inevitable.

This year I?ve been introduced to the ?Advent Conspiracy? movement, which I am finding drops the holiday stress level one massive notch. Next time you?re surfing online and need a break from Facebook, log on to

Here?s what you?ll see on the homepage:

(Worship fully)

(Spend less)

(Give more)

(Love all)

That?s four things. If you?re afraid of change or the noncommittal type, just click on one and see where it goes. If you?ve found yourself buying additional Christmas gifts on New Year?s Eve because the red tags told you to, you had better jump on all four right off the bat.

Christmas doesn?t have to be the big burly monster it?s made out to be. I know the carols get old because they start before Thanksgiving.

Sing them anyway. You?re bringing me down.

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