Every year, for the last decade, I have been getting a bit more sceptical of Christmas, and a bit more appreciative and traditional. Sound contradictory? You bet - welcome to my life.
I loath Christmas for it's commercialism, and cringe at the commercials that tell us it's all about "getting", so get one for yourself, NOW, before all the mad Christmas shoppers get a bigger, better one for you.
But slowly, over the years, as I have traded bought presents for made presents - or even better, made presence - I have come to like the holidays more and more. This year, so far at least, Grinch be damned, I feel that the good side is finally taken over from the bad side. Whoville is in the house! The force is with me.
Here is what I like about the holidays:
- my husband's annual birthday party, which is all about getting together with friends and just happens to be before Christmas
- donating to our favourite charities, a family affair
- writing letters to our sponsored children in Mongolia and Tanzania
- the first snowfall when we meet our neighbours on our local sledding hill. Yes, we can walk there, and it's fabulous walking in the snow at night
- being invited to holiday parties to spend good time with good friends
- our annual staff parties - time spent with friends away from the boardroom
- grrls gift exchange - homemade presents under $10
- the kids and cousins running around the house before turkey dinner
- memories of Christmas eve on Gordon Street - what Christmas will always means to me
- rye and ginger, my holiday drink since I was 12
- my mom's crescent moons, lemon tarts, sugar cookies, rum balls, nanaimo bars, chocolate covered cherries, etc, etc
- quiet Dec 24 dinners with the inlaws - picnic style in front of the fire
- opening the stocking and finding a mandarin orange, a magazine, and chocolate
- making presents for the all the kids in my life
- old t.v. specials - Frosty, Rudolph, the land of the misfits, the Grinch, Charlie Brown
- wrapping presents
- hugs when all the presents are open
So here is what I have figured out. If you just keep everything about Christmas, but remove the buying, it is a wonderful event. Which leads me to this...
A list of things you can choose to replace the buying.
But don't get me wrong. I am all in favour of buying the RIGHT things. As written by Chicken-Scratch about the Adbusters Buy Nothing Christmas campaign, "Buy Nothing Christmas is not really about refusing to spend a dime over the holiday season. It’s about taking a deep breath and deciding to opt out of the hype‚ the overcrowded malls‚ and the stressful to–do lists. It’s about reminding ourselves to really think about what we are buying‚ why we are buying it‚ and whether we really need it at all."
I love what I bought for my youngest son - a $6.95 present he has wanted for months, and will love, no, really, LOVE! And I equally love what I picked up for free for Paris. I love what I made for all of my nieces and nephews and grrlfriends. I love what I have picked out to buy for my mom.
Every year, I try to add a bit more meaning to Christmas and a bit less buying. Last year, we added a toboggan party on Mount Seymour. The year before I donated a bit more to local charities. The year before I stopped sending Christmas cards, but phoned friends instead.
This year, I will try my hardest to not watch any commercials on t.v., listen to commercials on the radio, read advertisements in the papers, or flip through any holiday flyers. Christmas is so much nicer when you pay attention to friends and family and select gifts for them, as opposed to reacting to advertising.
A little bit here, a little bit there.
Ho, ho, ho, off we go!