Americans are very into Christmas.
We really love celebrating this time of year!
In 2013, consumers in the
U.S. spent about $730 during the holiday season, for a grand total of about $602 billion when all is said and done between gifts,
entertaining, traveling and decorating.
To put that number in
perspective, the annual GDP of the country of Colombia in 2013 was $602
billion, according to the IMF. The annual GDP of Tanzania, a country with a
population comparable to that of Colombia (about 50 million) was about $85
For another level of
perspective, in 2012 the World Health
Organization estimated that it would take about $535 billion to provide access to clean
water and adequate sanitation across the globe.
This means that just one
year of our holiday spending would cover this cost. Completely.
Clean water for all. Done.
So we spend a lot on
These numbers can be
disheartening in that they represent a staggering amount of money spent on
material possessions in a world full of real material needs. But for many there is a real joy and sense of
family and community found in this season that we can hardly advocate a halt to
But what if we decided to
do things differently and what if in doing that we engaged with our friends,
family, churches to do the same? What if
we could turn the staggering truth of Christmas spending into a staggering
collective gift instead?
What if people, and by people
I mean me, I mean you, bought fewer gifts? Or even one less gift?
If I, for example, decided
this year not to purchase one $25 toy my daughters – what is the potential of
my $25 gift? Or, for that matter, ten or a hundred or a thousand foregone gifts
three-quarters of the 300 million people in the U.S. are over 18 – 225,000,000
people and 77% of the U.S. adult population identifies as Christian.
Let’s keep going with the
math – 77% of that number is 173,250,000.
One more equation – If all
of the Christians in the U.S. decided to reduce their gift purchases by one,
and instead donated that $25, we could give more than $4.3 billion just this
Christmas to alleviating poverty around the world.
This is the power of collective
giving, the power of choosing one small change ourselves and working to
multiply that change by engaging with our communities and encouraging them to
make those choices too. We can make a
tremendous impact on the world in the name of the savior who we celebrate this season
and always. The savior who calls us to
be His hands, feet and heart in world in desperate need of people willing to make
If you are looking
for a great place to donate that forgone $25 gift Living
Water International is an amazing organization that works to help communities create sustainable water, sanitation,
hygiene, and Christian witness programs in partnership with local churches.