Yesterday, Kristi Henson, a marketing executive at Thomas Nelson Publishers asked me to put together my Chrsitmas wishlist. Apparently, Amazon is running a feature in which they’ve asked authors to list some items sold on Amazon we might want for Christmas. I think it’s their take on the “celebrity playlists” you see on Itunes. Anyway, I sat for a while and thought about the spirit of Christmas and offered them a list. As a Christian leader, I took the assignment very seriously. I think it’s a lovely list and I thought I’d share it with you:
I live in a quaint neighborhood just south of Portland. It’s a sleepy district known for its antique shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Everybody in my neighborhood walks, because we have two of the cities best parks, several grocery stores and boutique shops that bring pedestrians in from the city and suburbs. And there are untold numbers of sculptures, tastefully displayed around the parks and even in front of some of the retail establishments. I thought perhaps I could contribute to the aesthetic with one of these. I live in a condo so I’d probably have to put it on the roof. But if I anchor it down, I think it would be fine.
2. A little help with the ladies.
Nearly every day Lucy and I walk down to the river. I like to talk to the girls there who also walk their dogs. There’s this one girl, real cute, whose dog pulls her around the park while she rides on a skateboard. Seriously, it’s such a cute thing to see. Anyway, I can’t skate because I have no balance. And even if I showed up on a skateboard she’d be on to me, thinking I was just copying her to strike up conversation. But she’d certainly talk to me if I were walking Lucy wearing a pair of these.
My friend and pastor, Rick McKinley was instrumental in starting a program called Advent Conspiracy. Essentially a few years ago he stood in front of our church and said we had seriously lost the meaning of Christmas, that the whole thing had become a commercial nightmare. He introduced us, then, to a program he and some other pastors started in which entire churches would agree to not go into debt over Christmas, and instead, take more time and intention in creating gifts for the people they love. The church then printed a catalog of tasteful crafts entire families could make together, and even hosted workshops and classes. We all agreed the money we’d save would provide clean water for people hurting around the world. The program worked, and now hundreds of churches are involved. It’s remarkable. Still, it’s just me and Lucy around here, and I’ve never known what exactly Lucy and I could do together. But now I know. We can make my mom a sweater! Merry Christmas indeed.
• Optional accessory: here.
4. A little more help with the ladies.
If you’re like me, you like to cuddle. But what do you do when you’re cuddling on the couch and the credits on the movie are rolling up the screen and your lady friend is sound asleep under your arm. She half opens her eyes and looks at you with that cute gaze you’re crazy about and says how easy it would be just to stay the night. You think about picking her up, taking her into your room and tucking her in, but you also know that is only going to lead to trouble. You’re just going to crawl in there with her and spoon till the sun comes up, and then the two of you are going to go to hell. But with this lovely invention, all you have to do is explain there’s only room for one. She won’t be able to stay the night, and yet she’ll still think you’re awesome. Problem solved.
If you’re grandmother is anything like mine, she loves eating dinner. And if you’re like me, you like making a little something and bringing it over now and then. But don’t you hate it when she keeps asking what it is, or why you can’t cook like that nice, sexy man from meals on wheels? What can you do to make the meal more memorable? You might try this terrific kitchen appliance.
6. Christmas dinner
Everybody knows what meat to cook for Thanksgiving, and Halloween is obvious too. But what do you smoke for Christmas? Done and done. (Make sure to roll over the other sample images. Your mouth will water!)
7. A new suit for the Christmas Eve service.
If you attend Imago Dei here in Portland, you’re already wondering what to wear for the Christmas Eve service. Like most churches, the pressure is on to look your best. Will you wear socks? Will you shower? I ask myself these questions for weeks before the big night, and the last three years I missed the whole thing for standing in my closet trying on every stitch of clothing I own. Jesus got born without me. But not this year. I’m ready. I promise you Jesus wouldn’t have been born in a barn if Joseph would have been wearing something more respectable. You’re going to like the way you look, I guarantee it.
8. Create memories with your house guests.
If you’re like me, you love playing practical jokes on your house guests. Just last year, Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission and I had a knee-slapping laugh when I short-sheeted the bed in the guest room. And Derek and Sandra Webb giggled like children when they woke up in the middle of the night with me standing next to their bed in only my boxers. Oh the fun we’ve all had around here. But what do you do for that really special guest? How do you create a moment? Well, Mark Driscoll is coming to town next week, and I’m ready. Perfect.
In all seriousness, if you want a really great Christmas, and if you want to actually remember what you gave people and if you want them to remember what they got from you, try doing things differently. Lets not buy crap this year at the last minute. Rick Mckinley, Chris Seay and hundreds of other pastors are leading churches through a better story. Check out Advent Conspiracy. Celebrate the birth of Christ by knitting a sweater for your uncle out of dryer lint. He’ll never forget it. And you’ll save a boat load of cash.