The Twelve Months of Christmas

Did you survive the holidays? What a sad commentary on our society that we take a sacred season—well, it’s secular too—and reduce the goal to "getting through it." A season which, at its best, emphasizes the Word incarnate has come to represent a world in chaos. The December Christian holiday is out of control.

Some folks, of course, like it that way. Frenzied people buy in a hectic way; I’ve purchased last-minute gifts that I—the "King of Stinge"—would never consider purchasing in an "ordinary time." Most of the current celebration is not as much about peace on earth as pace of purchase.

Now, most of us know it doesn’t need to be this way. But we need help to stop ourselves. Don’t worry, friends, we are not alone; people who reflect on this year-round are willing to offer us insight and suggestions.

Alternatives for Simple Living was founded by Bob Kochtitsky in the spring of 1973 in Jackson, Mississippi, as a protest to the commercialization of Christmas. Its mission is to "equip people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and celebrate responsibly," according to current director, Gerald Iverson.

The first fruit of Alternatives was the Alternative Christmas Catalogue, released in October of its first year. Alternatives appealed initially to United Methodists, soon spreading to other mainline Protestants. A thrust into Catholic parishes followed. And, more recently, evangelicals seem to be discovering Alternatives, realizing that "putting Christ back into Christmas" means more than going back to 1950s America.

Twenty-five years after its founding, Alternatives is probably best known for its Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?, now in its 10th year, a booklet with versions geared for 25 different groups or denominations. Whose Birthday now has an annual print run of 150,000.

Other quality resources produced by Alternatives include:

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1998
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