This may not present a problem for those who practice a Christianity that is conformed to consumer culture, but for those who seek to follow Jesus it challenges us with one of his core teachings: "You cannot serve both God and mammon." Mammon: wealth, riches, money, stuff.
If you haven't yet watched Annie Leonard's "The Story of Stuff," now is the time. This 20 minute, easy to watch animation, will inoculate you against unrestrained consumerism during this holiday season. The sequels are also great.
The Commercialization of Christmas challenges people of every spiritual tradition to resist cultural accommodation, practice integrity, and celebrate in ways that bring joy. I personally love going to Christmas concerts and street fairs, watching my grandkids in the Christmas pageant and the Nutcracker, singing Christmas Carols, having meals with my beautiful extended family, organizing crafts for the Sunday School children, spending an evening at Hospitality House (our local rotating homeless shelter), reaching out to a family in need, putting cedar branches and nativity scenes in our window sills, decorating a tiny living tree that we'll plant outside after Christmas.
I plan, with God's help, to weigh my gift-giving choices well. I hope to not find myself walking vacant-eyed down aisles of plastic toys.
The organization "Alternatives for Simple Living" has a Treasury of Celebrations with some great ideas of ways to celebrate the different holidays, including Advent and Christmas. Scroll down the page at their website to find out more: