It’s hard to believe that the Christmas/Hanukkah season is upon us already! Where has the year gone? It seems like just yesterday we were complaining about the record heat of summer. Halloween and Thanksgiving have whizzed by, and here we are in the season of lights.

Every year, our family gives lip service to the idea of a simpler, kinder season. We have complained about holiday advertising that begins before Halloween (kudos to Nordstrom’s, which has made the decision to wait until after Thanksgiving). We have discussed the increasing commercialism of Christmas and have wondered whether there is a way of making this more truly a time of giving — not so much things as love, and we have wondered how to do that. In our family, we have agreed to take the pressure off each other, because we want our celebrations to be less about spending money and more about spending time and attention on the special people in our lives.

• Listen to editor Keri Mitchell’s podcast with the Rev. Monie and the Rev. George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church in Lakewood about why they decided to join the Advent Conspiracy, and what it looks like for their churches. Read more about the interview here.

In planning this year’s Christmas season at church, I have discovered a wonderful new movement called “Advent Conspiracy.” Its goal is to make Christmas less commercial, and less frenzied in order to concentrate on the true meaning of the season.

According to the website, “what was once a time to celebrate the birth of the savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams and shopping lists. And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?”

Advent Conspiracy would have us focus on four themes (which we are going to adopt for the four Sundays of Advent): Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. It encourages us not only to spend less on each other, but also to give more.

How is this possible? Here’s the key: We can spend less money, but we can give more time — time to write that long awaited letter, more time spent with the kids, time to bake “some really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols.”

In other words, this season can be a time to spend more love on each other, and on those less fortunate. The kids may complain about the idea at first, but my guess is that together you will end up making memories they will take long into their adulthood — memories of parents, family and friends who actually had time for them in this otherwise fast-paced world.

Maybe I’m idealistic. Maybe I’ve got too many sugarplum fairies cavorting in my crowded cranium. But I like the idea. I really like it — enough to give it a try.

Yes, it’s sort of countercultural. My friends may think I’ve lost it, quitting the Christmas Merry Go Round. They’re right — it is countercultural. That’s why it’s a conspiracy. A conspiracy of love, a conspiracy of time.

Have a blessed season — one that brings you closer to the people and the ideals that matter most.

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