The Umstattd Family Advent Conspiracy

Advent Conspiracy

This year the Umstattd Family has changed the way we do Christmas. It is changing everything.

The Old Way

With seven people in the Umstattd Family Christmas got a bit out of hand. We would spend all December shopping to fill up the whole living room floor with heaps of gifts.

With the notable exception of my father, we had become materialistic. The gifts not the Giver had become the focus of our Christmas day.

The Advent Conspiracy

Geno Hildebrandt, the pastor of our church, started talking about the advent conspiracy and that got us thinking.  Could we do Christmas differently this year?

If you are unaware of The Advent Conspiracy you need to read this post right now.

In short, with the money Americans spend on Christmas we could solve the clean water epidemic and probably world hunger as well.

The Umstattd Family Meeting

So, we held a meeting. In typical Umstattd fashion this meeting was done according to Roberts Rules of Order.  We submitted and voted on bills, seconded amendments and tried to keep the talking to no more than three people at a time.

I was surprised that the younger members of our family were fine with getting fewer gifts this year. We all agreed that Christmas for our family had become too much about stuff and not enough about people.

Umstattd Family 1999

Random Christmas photo from 1999

My dad felt it important for the children to buy into the changes. So, we voted on and passed the following “Family Bills.”

  • Family Bill 1 Each child is to give a gift to only one other child. (We drew names out of a hat) This passed unanimously 7/0
  • Family Bill 2 Mom & Dad will only give one gift per child. Gift is defined by one wrapped gift. This does not apply to candy and other very small stocking stuffers. This passed 7/0
  • Family Bill 3 Gift decisions are to be made through subversive investigation and not direct interrogation whenever possible. This passed 5/2
  • Family Bill 4 Family members are encouraged to thoughtfully reduce materialism by making gifts and giving perviously owned gifts in many cases. (My mom is doing most of her shopping on Craig’s List this year)  This passed 7/0
  • Family Bill 5 Each family member is encouraged to go on a fun December outing with each other family member. These outings are in addition to group outings. This passed  7/0

Believe it or not these changes were the hardest on my mom. Gifts are one of her love languages and while shopping is a stress she enjoys it as a labor of love.  One thing we did not address in the family meeting was what to do with the money we were saving on gifts. One idea is to donate it to the Austin Coalition for Life but we have not yet decided.

The Results

Christmas hasn’t happened yet but here are the results so far.

  • Less stress. Many of us are already done with our shopping because we have less to do.
  • More time. We’ve made more Christmas cookies this year and my mom was able to clean out the ornaments which she has wanted to do for years. Also we are in the process of making a music video and finishing an audiobook (more on this later).
  • More outings. David is still out of town but we are already doing more fun activities as a family that we wouldn’t have had time to do if we had been shopping.

Perhaps I will update this post and let you know how Christmas day went.

We Like Gifts

William Umstattd

I don’t want to sound like a grinch who hates gifts. We just think it has gotten out of hand. Christmas is not about gifts. That is the lesson the Grinch learned, come to think about it.

The Ninja does not like holiday greed.

I had to share this video. Its about Ninjas and black Friday.

What do you think? How are you doing Christmas this year? Are you changing anything?

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Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

7 thoughts on “The Umstattd Family Advent Conspiracy

  1. There’s a lot of wisdom in that. We’ve faced many of those same issues. One of my biggest problems this time of the year is that I want everything to be “just right”. I spend so much stress trying to make sure everything is the way I want it to be that I forget to enjoy it. Lord willing, that’s changing this year.

    Oh, and love the use of Robert’s Rules to determine family law! 🙂

  2. Tomo you made one mistake, Family Bill 2 was the one that passed on the 5/2 and Family Bill 3 pasted on a 7/0. Besides that it was good.

  3. Wow,
    What a post! What great ideas!! I sure am glad
    I came home to have this meeting. That manger scene photo IS
    actually our family back in 1999. John was baby Jesus, William
    the sheep.
    Usually I think the Ask a Ninja is over the top, but except where the
    Ninja breaks his friend’s neck, this one wasn’t 1/2 bad.

  4. Thomas – this is awesome. I love it! Please do post something about how it went, even though I know it will be a wonderful Christmas for your family. Thanks for sharing this timely and important encouragement!

  5. We cut back this year, but not as much as your family. I like your Family Bills. I’ll have to consider that for next year. The thought of having more time together (instead of shopping) is very appealing.

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