The Christmas season often arrives in your mailbox through a "Santa's list" of retailers with such monikers as L.L. Bean or Lillian Vernon. While Martha Stewart devotes pages of Living to holiday entertaining, online retailers drape their sites with holly-and-pine-cone window dressing.
Since consumerism often eclipses Christmas, some faith-based groups are offering alternatives.
Resources for those who want to celebrate simply are available from Alternatives for Simple Living (800-821-6153 or www.SimpleLiving.org). Heifer Project International (800-422-0755; www.heifer.org) lets gift-givers send live animals (everything from an "ark" of animals for $5,000 to a flock of chicks for $20) to people in need worldwide. People can designate their gift in honor of friends and family. The ELCA World Hunger Appeal will accept dedicated donations at (800) 638-3522, Ext. 2764; credit card donations use Ext. 2456; www.elca.org/co/hunger/.
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