Incarnating Joy at Christmas

Amidst the joy of celebrating the coming of the Child at Christmas, many of us are caught up in the bustle of holiday travels, shopping sprees, and plans to serve those less fortunate. What often is lost is the joy of the Coming and the opportunity to reflect on its meaning for our

lives. Over the last decade, a number of very insightful and interesting books have suggested how we might incarnate our hopes and dreams into our actions and activities in this, the busiest of times.

CHRISTMAS UNPLUGGED

A dozen years ago, Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli opened the discussion of alternative celebrations in their book Unplug the Christmas Machine: How to Have the Christmas You've Always Wanted (Quill, 1982). Armed with a strong analysis of the trappings of a commercialized Christmas, these authors offer a plethora of suggestions for re-energizing Christmas celebrations.

Chapters include presentations of gender differences in the expectation of Christmas, the real hopes of children during this season, and the seductiveness of commercialism. Practical suggestions reign supreme here. Although the authors do have several helpful suggestions for single parents, a more in-depth discussion for people without children would strengthen this book.

Alice Chapin has offered a duet of Christmas offerings: The Big Book of Great Gift Ideas (Tyndale Publishing House, 1991) and Great Christmas Ideas (Tyndale, 1992). In The Big Book, Chapin examines the entire notion of gift giving. She concentrates on recognizing the gift of family, and so suggests stressing family histories through making family calendars, photo albums, and taped or written memories as gifts.

Even more specific Christmas ideas appear in Great Christmas Ideas. By creating a home art gallery or musical concert, the joy of Christmas can be recovered in the commercial malaise.

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Sojourners Magazine December 1994-January 1995
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