17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Picketing Christmas

Three years ago, over the Thanksgiving Holiday, our family visited Salt Lake City for a reunion. One of our nights there, we made a trip downtown to see the lights and to absorb the festive mood. On the street between the Crossroads mall and the ZCMI Center we were met by a group of angry picketers. They were yelling out unintelligible phrases and marching around with signs which seemed have a general "say no to Christmas" message.

I admit to being a little scared. No one likes to cross a picket line right? But we had to make it across the street which meant we had to pass right through the middle of their craziness. I huddled close to dh and tried not to make any eye contact with them (something I had become pretty good at after living in NYC for a few years). I'm one of those people who enjoys Christmas and I feared they may see that on my face, making me a clear target for their rage.

As we barreled through the crowd, a small, half-sheet of paper was shoved into my face. I took it not wanting to make the crowd more angry and hurried on my way. A block down the street, I finally decided it was safe to take a glance at their propaganda before tossing it into the corner trash can. What I found on that poorly copied, already rumpled piece of paper completely surprised me.

It had the heading of "Simplify Your Holidays".

Now that didn't seem too crazy. Most people want to simplify the holidays, right?

The flyer started with a stat that said 3 out of 4 families in the US would like to make the holiday season less materialistic this year and focus more on the things money can't buy.

Sure, I'm down with that.

The flyer then went on to list numerous ideas on how to have a more meaningful Holiday. The group's purpose was to encourage people not just to simplify, but to be more conscious of their Christmas gift giving practices to ensure a meaningful, memorable and fun holiday with your family (with an end goal of creating a lifestyle that will ensure a healthy planet for future generations instead of completely buying into the commercialism that surrounds us).

It all sounded good to me. Their list of practical ideas were really inspiring. I was a little surprised to find myself agreeing with a crowd that I had so recently tried so hard to avoid.

Thank you angry picketer for shoving this piece of paper in my face. And thank you to my curiousity for making me take a second to read what it said.

Every year since my run in with the Christmas Picketers, I stop by the group's website and take a look at their ideas. While they don't take a "Christ-centered" approach to the season (which is hopefully my ultimate goal), it's still another reminder for me to my focus my energy on the things that really matter and the site is filled with practical tips on how to make it happen in a more universal, social and globally minded way.

Some years I do better than others implementing the ideas that help me and my family have a the kind of holiday celebration we want. I wholly appreciate the time, thought and passion this group has put into helping people focus on a less materialistic holiday and find more quality time connecting with their family (they also have lots of other non-holiday related ideas that are great too - like lessening your junk mail).

Though I still wonder if an angry picket line was the most effective way they could have chosen to share their good message. I also wonder how many other good messages never make it to a large audience because they come from what might be perceived as "angry activists".


  • That's so interesting. To envision the angry picketers, and then to go to their website...I would never guess they were the same group.

    I am a big fan of their photo album idea. I do buy it instead of make it...but I still spend a lot of time designing it on the computer...and I love giving that especially to grandparents who already have everything (it seems).

    Sometimes I wish that Christ's birthday and Christmas were two separate days. I love our American Traditions of Christmas Chaos and Commercialism, and I also love the celebrating our Savior's birth, and the two sometimes clash...it is a delicate balance to strike, and it's easy to get swept away, so I applaud you for controlling Christmas for your family and making it meaningful
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/05/2006 12:23:00 PM  

  • I've now lost track of the number of times this year that friends and family have asked me: "So what big gifts are you getting your kids this year?". I'm sorry, but that just feels offensive, wrong. They are still very young and I want to take this time to make Christmas fun and memorable for them...without making it ALL about the presents. They know who Jesus is and it's more important for me to teach them about His significance during this season than load up on "stuff" for them. Of course they will get presents this year but it is my goal that years later, they remember making Christmas cookies, decorating gingerbread houses, caroling, taking presents to those less fortunate and reading the Christmas story.

    Thanks for this post, Carrie - it has only strengthened my resolve to not let this season turn into a present free for all and instead focus on family and Christ.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 12/05/2006 02:25:00 PM  

  • Tonight my daughter was saying her prayers, and the last thing she said was: "And we're thankful that it's going to be your birthday soon"

    Then when she was done she said:
    Mom, there are two things that make Christmas so special: 1. Santa is going to come and 2. (with growing excitment) It's Jesus' birthday!

    Right now I am really thankful for that Catholic education, b/c I think they talk about it every day...and she gets it...and she is just as excited about that (if not more so) as the Santa part.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/05/2006 06:03:00 PM  

  • I have always hated the commercialism of Christmas.
    I finally heard a radio ad talking about Christmas not being about spending money and buying big things, but about time...and of COURSE they were selling something!
    We have parents and grandparents at work all the time who are buying 10 and 12 year olds ridiculously priced electronics because THAT is how you show love...Poppycock! There's not enough time and space here for my rant on that, so I'll just say it's good they are handing out actual advice instead of saying "simplify" and hoping we'll all figure it out on our own.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/05/2006 09:36:00 PM  

  • "There's a lot of bad ism's in this world, but commercialism the worst"!!
    had to do the quote, couldn't help myself!!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/05/2006 09:39:00 PM  

  • If you read this months Ensign there are some good Chirstmas traditions that members wrote in that I thought were fun but also helped to focus on the meaning of Christmas. I'm taking note of them so that I can implement them in my present and future family.
    posted by Anonymous Mia at 12/06/2006 12:05:00 AM  

  • mia, I thought of that article too when I first read Carrie's post. Some of them though, I just don't know if I could do...like going to a remote place or eating only Bethlehem food? I liked some of them, but others I just couldn't imagine...simply because I like the traditions that my family has, and they usually involve being close to civilization and eating a lot.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/06/2006 03:34:00 AM  

  • kage-
    LOL! I totally thought the same thing with the Bethlehem food. Seriously, why would I do that when I can have fudge?

    But Mia, you are wise to want to have great traditions in your family that is not commercialized --however, I will warn you now, your husband will have his fair share in what you do... :) (not a bad thing)...
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/06/2006 06:49:00 PM  

  • So interesting. I never saw that coming and would have reacted the exact same way. It does seem like an odd path to take to get their point across...
    I also wonder how many "good messages" I miss because I assume its someone protesting/picketing something near and dear to my heart.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 12/06/2006 09:56:00 PM  

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