This month’s challenge theme is: Gifts We Give to Individuals
Prayer/Mission: Pray for refugee families, like the holy family, who seek safe haven.
Forced to flee their homes due to crises like war, persecution, and climate change, 65.3 million people worldwide are currently displaced. With a rise in xenophobia, many refugees are not welcomed by the countries in which they seek safety. This Times article, Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word, offers hope in a world where refugees are not only welcomed, but celebrated.
“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?”(Mt 25)
Buy Me: Create and tweet gift made of repurposed materials or wrap gifts in non-disposable material.
Energy/Emissions: Give the gift of your time in lieu of a present to a loved one.
Instead of stressing out about physical gifts, pick one or two people to give the gift of your full presence. Plan a special activity (like stargazing, see below!), ban phubbing by putting the cell phones on silent, and spend some quality time together.
Going Places: Calculate the cumulative miles that separate your extended family
For many, traveling is a way of life in order to get to work or to visit family. Colin Beavan’s year-long experiment, the No Impact Project, invites reflection on eco-friendly living and the implications of travel. “When you’re done reading it, if you don’t think twice every time you throw something in the trash, eat a tomato in January, grab a bottle of water to go, or put your key in your ignition, go back to page one and start over again.” No Impact Man: The Documentary depicts the journey that Colin and his family took to purge their over-consumptive life.
Food: Write a sustainability prayer; pray for nameless supporters of our consumption
Is Christmas one of your favorite holidays of the year? The family, the snow and the stockings held with care. Writing and sharing a prayer is a non-threatening way to generate interest and compassion, bringing us back to the core meanings to traditions and evolve to a more enjoyable and accessible style that our current society tends to stray from. See if this prayer for the environment and sustainability will spark your creative mind in prayer this holiday season!
Person 2 Person: Pass on or give away items to specific people who will benefit.
In the spirit of giving (and receiving!), consider sharing items with loved ones and friends, donating items to a shelter or thrift store, or organizing a clothing swap to mix up your wardrobe without buying new pieces. If you’re looking for somewhere specific to donate, check in with your local homeless shelters; many are in need of coats, boots, blankets, and warm clothing in the winter months.
Learn: Learn non-consumptive cultural celebrations
Christmas is celebrated all over the world, but not every family hangs stockings or leaves cookies for Santa. This One Campaign article takes a look at the Christmas traditions of six countries in Africa. About halfway through the film God Grew Tired of Us, there’s a powerful clip of Sudanese immigrants reflecting on Christmas in America and Sudan. Now that you know a little more about Christmas in the rest of the world, analyze this infographic on holiday waste and consider how different the experiences from country to country can be.
Eco-Biography: Watch Advent constellations or electricity free social.
Electricity fasts make Sunday nights in Advent memorable and fun. Light candles, tell stories, go to bed early, play games.
There is a Danish word, hygge which translates to coziness. In the BBC article, Hygge: A heart-warming lesson from Denmark, it explains how this attitude of hygge makes Denmark the happiest country in the world.
If you want to head outdoors, we recommend taking a look at some of the Advent constellations. With the help of a sky map, you can view numerous celestial objects with your naked eye and even more with the use of binoculars or a telescope.
So, dim your lights, find some incense, watch that sunset and experience hygge in your own surroundings.
Grace is a senior at John Carroll University, double majoring in Sociology and Peace, Justice, and Human Rights. Throughout here experience at JCU she has been involved in many social justice initiatives. She is part of Students For Social Justice’s fair trade committee and contributed to the campaign to make John Carroll a Fair Trade University. Grace is part of Kappa Delta Sorority and an Arrupe Scholar. She is has participated in immersion experiences to Nicaragua and El Salvador. Grace is from Inverness, IL and graduated from Saint Viator High School.