In a recent article by Jackie Cohen in CBS Market Watch, he said that "Americans are apparently in a festive mood and they want their houses to join in the merriment."

In an interview with Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, Danziger told Cohen, "People are spending more money on holiday decorations this year than they did in 2003: Nearly $8 billion will be spent on holiday decorations, this represents a 4.5 percent gain over last year." According to Danziger, "90 percent of consumers decorate their homes for Christmas or Hanukkah. The average household will spend about $119 on winter-season decorations this year."

Wow! 8 billion dollars for Christmas decorations! I really can't picture how much money that is in my mind, but it is a larger pile of money than I have ever seen. What if no one bought Christmas decorations and instead of spending their $119 on Christmas decorations, they chose to help those less fortunate with that money? Yes, I know that some of the department stores would go under because they are counting on the money from our Christmas decorations purchases, but what good would happen if we really did something different with the money?

People all over the country are crying about the needs of the homeless, the poor, those without health care, the national debt, and the cost of the war. There are many who are crying about the Social Security system being in shaky shape. We all cry at one time or another about not having enough money and so we tend to blame others or the government. Yet, we as a nation spend $8 billion on Christmas decorations. Something just seems wrong about that to me!

Let me say that I am not criticizing Christmas decorations! I love Christmas and love to decorate — as my 8 Rubber Maid containers of decorations indicate. I also understand that Christmas is not authorized as a holy day in Scripture and that we have no real idea of the exact day on which Jesus was born. So what if we match our decorations spending by giving an equal amount to our churches, to someone less fortunate, or to a charity? Can you imagine all of the good that would be done in our world if each of us did that? Can you imagine all of the missionaries we could support with that money? The ol' line goes, "The church has the money to do anything we want to do, the problem is that it is still in our pockets." In this case, maybe it's not in our pockets, but hanging on our walls, roofs, and Christmas trees.

I read an article a week or so ago which said something like this: "Why don't you do something special for someone without expecting to be patted on the back for it! Take food to someone and leave it on the doorstep with a note that simply says, 'from a friend of Jesus.'"

How about matching your purchases?
We all know of someone less fortunate than we are — someone having a hard time at the moment and could use a little extra financial and spiritual help. Spending 8 billion dollars — $119 per family — are we really as hard up as we think we are? If we can spend money on lights, ribbon, Christmas trees, yard sculptures and all of that other stuff, can't we help some less fortunate folks with some of that money, too? I wonder what the One we remember this time of year thinks when he sees what we do and how we spend our money to honor his birth ... with decorations?

Please understand me: I am not telling you to stop buying Christmas decorations. However, please seriously consider matching the money you spend on that new string of lights with money you give to help others. The apostle Paul reminds us, "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith." (Galatians 6:9-10 NLT)

What about it? How about matching your purchases with an equal contribution either through your church, some organization, or by getting involved personally with someone else in need! Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas on the outside — but what about in our hearts?