Spend Less

By Gianna Carducci

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Each week during Advent, we’ll share a new story from someone in our community highlighting one or more of the Advent Conspiracy tenets. This week Gianna Carducci shares her experience of giving differently & spending less, "The most precious gift I have ever given to this day was something I could not purchase."

For my first 18 years, my only context for Advent was the calendar filled with chocolate that helped me count down the days until the biggest morning of the year, when everyone in our twelve-person family would have at least ten presents under the tree. The bounty of it all seemed to quantify our affections for one another. As I grew older, the excitement around Christmas morning was dampened by the feeling of obligation to buy things for family members I was not that close to, just so they would have a gift from me. Christmas became more about the stress of making sure people were accounted for than something to look forward to.

I started following Jesus on the first Sunday of Advent in 2012, which is a beautiful liturgical season in which to have your eyes opened to the reality of God. For the first time I had the excitement of a child, not in anticipation of presents Christmas morning, but for the incarnation: “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.”

I had heard that song a thousand times, and yet its incredible message had been drowned out in the flurry of shopping and wrapping and giving. The reality of that brought grief. I still bought small gifts for my family that year, but my heart was really only poured out into one: a collection of nativity carols, written out by hand and illustrated for my youngest nephew. It would be years until he could read it for himself, but there was a deep need in me to help him understand that Christmas is about something so much more than the gifts he would be receiving that morning: that there was a gift given to the world, and that gift would give Himself for us all.

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The most precious gift I have ever given to this day was something I could not purchase. It was something I slaved away creating with ink-stained, cramping hands until the very morning of Christmas itself. But I did it with pure joy, as it came from the absolute overflow of my love for God and the desire for others to see what He revealed to me. In that process, I caught a glimpse of Jesus’ heart for my nephew, my family and for the world.