Has anyone else detected an undercurrent of guilt-tripping in some of the recent campaigns to redeem Christmas generosity? Programs like Advent Conspiracy are great. (Our family on my wife's side started our own version last year where we spent money on those in need instead of each other and then shared about who we helped and why with each other on Christmas morning.) The subversion of materialism and consumerist idolatry is a very, very good thing. But let's be careful not to take pride in it or to shame those who, you know, buy gifts for each other.
One of my concerns is that things like Advent Conspiracy become ways materialistic Christian suburbanites do penance for their year-long accumulation. But year-end "sacrifice" doesn't mitigate consumerism the rest of the year. Instead -- and how's this for a novel concept? -- let's just be generous people. Year-round, I mean.
There's nothing wrong with giving gifts to friends and family. There's nothing wrong with even buying those gifts, rather than making them. Gift-giving is good.
Flee consumerism this holiday season. But flee also smug abstention.