Advent done right

Prepare ye the way of the parties, or prepare ye the way of the Lord? One website is trying to help Christians get on the right Advent track this year. Called the Advent Conspiracy, it is an effort to challenge people to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all.

It appears to be the work of non-denominational churches, but its message applies to all. Congregations and individuals sign on and post pictures to show what they are doing to make Advert mean more this year.

I know we Americans go a bit overboard on gifts, but I was still surprised when I read that the website reports that we spend $450 billion on gifts.

It asks that we each give one less gift this year, but according to market research, most Americans plan to give much less than just one gift. In fact, they are cutting their planned Christmas spending in half.

According to the American Research Group, planned spending is down to $431 per person this year, down from $859 last year.

Despite the recession, the price of Christmas continues to rise, according to PNC Price of Christmas Index, which tracks how much it would cost “True Love” to buy his sweetie each gift in the 12 days of Christmas. The total this year for all the gifts over the 12 days (12 partridges in a pear tree, 11 x 2 turtle-doves, etc.) is $86,609. True Love might have to skip a few days this year.

Consumers don’t need to be told to spend less, but they certainly might need Advent Conspiracy’s encouragement to “give more” as charitable giving is down this year, too.

For those gifts you need to buy, you can at least try to buy fair trade. You can even celebrate Advent fairly this year, with a fair trade chocolate Advent calendar.