Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Frantic Advent: To Dodge It, or Dive in?

Today is work-at-home Wednesday. Snow is falling gently outside and I'm in my jammies with my laptop and a cup of coffee, trying to get some perspective on the day and month to come.

This month, December, is not like the others. How much will we join in the "fun"?

1. Deck the Halls

Five houses in a row, elaborately decked in lights, now grace my cul-de-sac. We are house #6.

I am intimidated - I don't like being the one to break the chain. Hmmm... a couple strings of white lights across the picket fence in front, some colored ones for the tree in back - we could do it. We just haven't, not yet.

But the temps started going down after Thanksgiving and now there's snow. It gets harder to think of crawling around putting up lights in our yard - always assuming I make it through the process of untangling and checking all those strands of lights.

And of course I need to save some for the "tree" - still in its box. (Though now extricated from our crawl space.)

Am I so behind, having not done this?

2. Stuff The Stockings

Shopping isn't stressing me out this year. No, I didn't do it all in July, but I have a relative small shopping list, got requests from most of the key people, and took care of much of it these last few days (debit card and mouse in hand). My family purchases will be waiting for me at Mom's house when I arrive there in a few weeks.

Still, if I want to keep my sanity, I'll need to avoid getting sucked into the catalogs, magazines, newspapers, advertising supplements, etc. that would invite me to buy or long for more stuff.

What about you? Got this one under control? Or struggling with it?

3. Send Those Cards

Most of my co-workers are are somewhere in the process of getting out end-of-the-year newsletters, writing Christmas cards, getting family photos printed, sending gifts to their supporters, etc. It's starting to feel "late" to be just thinking about such things now.

Christmas cards? I used to always make my own; cheaper than buying, for a list of 200 or so. Last year I did "" Efficient, but not quite as cosy, and more expensive. This year I'm thinking about going the glittery, store-bought route and cutting the list to 50 or 60; not trying to reach everyone.

But I =could= still get some photos taken and do the whole Christmas-photo-for-your fridge route. For 50? Or for 200? "You'll get a lot more end-of-the-year donations if you do," said a world-wise colleague yesterday. (See below.) I don't like to think of it that way!

I haven't decided. Hmmm...

4. Inviting People to Give

For people in my line of work, working for a ministry/non-profit, it's not all just holiday cheer. "Everybody knows" that now is the time to invite people to send those extra, end-of-year checks that help us make up deficits and or get a good start on the new year. And for that, you need a newsletter. In addition to or instead of a Christmas card.

Well... I sent a financial update in October, a good, meaty newsletter at the beginning of November, and blew a cool $500 on the supporter gifts. Ordered fresh pine wreaths from a kid I know who was selling them. They are supposed to be delivered to their various destinations in about a week.

Asking for more support, though? It's hard for me, lately. I've never fallen short at year's end, and it's been almost 15 years. A few extra gifts came in October and November, but my account is still in the negative after months of high expenses. This is probably going to be the year I fall short - at least it will be if I don't take some additional action.

Here's where I'm stuck. It seems like =everybody= is asking for money these days, and most of them need it more than I do. It somehow doesn't seem sporting to add my little request to the cacophany.

I told my coworkers that I need to raise more support and that this issue was what was getting in the way. I asked them if there was another way to look at it. They gave me some helpful ideas.

So, today is the day I will dig out my notes from that meeting and reflect on what they said - see if I can get unstuck. Because right now the problem is me.

5. Wise Men Still Seek...

That brings me back to advent. Didn't the prophets say something about God sending somebody who could say,

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Yeah. That's the perspective I need.

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