Although we don’t do Christmas shopping around here, we aren’t a bah-humbug family. The holiday has no religious significance for us, but we do appreciate the idea of a season (supposedly) dedicated to the ideas of peace, love, and taking care of others. We sometimes get a little Charlie Brown tree, although we’re not planning to do so this year. We don’t spend a weekend stringing lights all over our house, but we do appreciate the lights that the town puts up, and the displays that some of our neighbors create. We don’t do gifts, but we love getting together with friends and family during the holiday season.
Basically, we’ve taken all of the stressful aspects of Christmas and eliminated them (years ago, we did do things like climb around on the roof putting up lights and wander through the mall buying gifts), and that has left ample time to enjoy the parts of the season that we find pleasant. December is not a stressful month in our house – it’s pretty much the same as any other month, but with a bit more time spent with family and friends.
For the last nine years, I’ve been making Christmas ornaments for our nieces, but I decided to let our son make them this year. When we go to story time at the library, he loves using the glue during whatever craft session they have. So a few days ago, I dug into my craft supplies to look for ideas. I found a sheet of white craft foam, some ribbon, a bottle of craft glue, and oodles of little embellishments, stickers, and do-dads. I cut the craft foam into circles, punched a hole in each circle to string the ribbon hanger, and then let our little guy dig into the bling. I covered each circle with glue and then let him pick out fancy stuff to add. He had a blast, and the ornaments turned out looking really cute.
Yesterday, we walked to the post office to mail them, and he was quite proud of his creations, and sure that his cousins will like them.
We’ve explained to our son that later this month, our town will be holding a food drive for local families, and we’re going to take him to the grocery store to help us pick out food to contribute. We want him to be involved in the process as much as possible, and we’ll use it as an opportunity to explain what Christmas is really all about. He’s only two and a half, so the fact that we’re going to be spending our money on food for the food drive rather than gifts for him will be A-ok with him this year. I know that as the years go by, that might not be such an easy sell, but we’re hoping that we can gently teach him from a very early age to reject the consumerism that seems so rampant around the holidays, and instead to reflect on how fortunate our family is. We’re trying to raise a little boy who is happy and content with his life, just the way it is. Because if you aren’t content already, no new possession will change that – at least not long-term. We recently watched the movie What Would Jesus Buy, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a little inspiration to have a different sort of Christmas this year.
Our son is very much looking forward to the town parade of lights this weekend, and is most excited about the string of fire trucks and ambulances that will be cruising down main street with lots of lights and sirens. He likes going for walks and looking at all the holiday decorations people have up (he keeps asking if we can go into their yards to play with the “toys” whenever he sees a holiday statue or inflatable decoration). He’s excited to hang out with his grandparents and aunts and uncles for Christmas dinner. I love that he’s excited about the simple pleasures of the season – the same ones that my husband and I enjoy.
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits published a great article today called The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents, and it’s got plenty of inspiration if you’re looking to get out from under the stressful consumerism of the holiday season.
I hope your December is off to a merry start, with lots of laughter, happiness, and good times with family and friends. None of those things can be purchased… they’re all free if we just remember where to look for them.