The Ultimate Gift

This essay is part of our Patheos Holiday Monitor question of the week: "Can we - or should we - resist holiday consumerism?" For more, visit the Patheos Holiday Monitor page.

As a performing songwriter and visual artist who works hard to live a sustainable life, I give a lot of thought each Christmas to finding creative, spiritually motivated alternatives to our culture of holiday consumerism. I believe that we are made in the image of the One who created this beautiful world and gave it to us to care for and enjoy -- the ultimate gift. I want the things I create, the way I live, and the gifts I give to others to reflect this deeply held belief.

That's why, this year, knowing that my family and friends had all of the material things they really needed, I decided to give them a song instead. It's not being handed to them on a plastic CD, but emailed or shared on Facebook as a link to a just-released YouTube video, their names all listed in the credits.

And this isn't a big-budget project. I couldn't bear the thought of spending a lot of money on production when many of our own neighbors are struggling in this economy. I put the recording and video together myself. That way there will be more to give to those in need, adding to the efforts of our non-profit, LUNCH (Local United Network to Combat Hunger), which raises and distributes thousands of dollars each year to fight hunger and homelessness.

It is my hope that this song will inspire others to share their most valuable gifts -- "love and understanding, wrapped up in faith" -- this holiday season. As we "make a wish for peace, and for the hungry and the poor," let's remember to "tie a ribbon ‘round it with more than our good intentions, to honor all that Christmas Child came here for."