Holiday spending can reflect our values Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Dec. 03, 2009 -- 1:00 AM

We just officially began the Christmas shopping season on “Black Friday,” the day which is supposed to help stores get out of “red” debt and into the “black” of economic survival.

While it is good to support our economy — especially in these challenging times — I think we can find additional ways to spend our money during the Advent season that reflect our religious values.

editor's view by Mary C. Uhler

Gifts to charitable causes

One suggestion is to give some Christmas gifts to charitable causes in the name of friends and relatives.  There are many worthwhile causes these days, especially those connected with our Catholic faith.

If we think about the real meaning of Advent as waiting for the birth of Jesus, there are some gift ideas which are especially appropriate. Some suggestions I have used include donating to: local maternity homes and pregnancy centers (Madison’s Elizabeth House run by CareNet Pregnancy Center and Pregnancy Helpline come to mind); the St. Vincent de Paul Society, especially for its programs to help the homeless (including Seton House and Port St.Vincent in Madison); the Catholic Multicultural Center in Madison, which serves many individuals and families in need; and Catholic Charities, which provides adoption services, family counseling, and services for the poor.

Helping mothers and babies in Bethlehem

Besides these programs closer to home, there is another way individuals, families, parishes, and schools can bring hope this Advent and Christmas season. It involves Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, located just a mere 500 yards from where Mary and Joseph found shelter in a stable to deliver the baby Jesus. This hospital helps impoverished families of Bethlehem find hope and a safe place to give birth.

Holy Family Hospital is an obstetrical/gynecological facility — the only one in the region that can handle the complicated medical conditions of women living in extreme poverty. State-of-the-art birthing facilities and neonatal intensive care units serve the needs of all Bethlehem area women and their babies regardless of creed, ethnicity, or ability to pay.

This hospital is also the designated care provider for four refugee camps operated by the United Nations. The hospital serves more than 22,000 women and children each year. Pope John Paul II declared Holy Family Hospital one of the top 100 projects of the Third Millennium for Christians around the world.

We can’t all travel to the Holy Land to help these modern-day “holy families,” but we can support the U.S.-based Holy Family Hospital Foundation which assists the hospital. The foundation’s Web site at has information on how to help.

The Web site especially encourages schools to adopt the hospital and suggests specific ways a school can raise money to support it. I’m sure parish religious education programs and families could adapt these suggestions, not only at Christmas time but throughout the year.

I’m not saying that all of our gifts should be given as contributions to charitable causes. But I think at least a portion of our holiday spending should reflect our values. It’s also an opportunity to teach our children about the importance of helping others as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Our Savior.