There was a lot of discussion around the meaning of the holidays this year. We do not celebrate religious Christmas and so the spirit of our season is in appreciation and in the joy of giving, mystery of Santa, and the excitement of receiving.
Their wants were so small that it got me to thinking. Why do we spend so much? If they are so excited that they may receive just this one particular stuffed animal or one game, why do we buy so many other things? It came down to yet another piece of our enculturated baggage as adults that we were slowly handing over to our kids as we perpetuated this materialistic cycle.
Through discussion, we came to the decision that all gifts that we gave to others would be handmade or found. This would make each one a heartfelt expression of our love and thought. There would be no stress about ‘finding the perfect gift’ and no dire financial straights trying to keep up with the yearly exchange. And no grouchy shopping as we attempted the former while creating the latter.
We got unfinished picture frames from a Freecycler and the kids handpainted/decorated each one and chose a photo of themselves to put inside. They rolled candles with a beeswax kit we have. Sadie sewed flaxseed sacks to ease her cousins’ boo boos. We layered cookie jars with chocolate chip cookie fixins and talked about how much fun their cousins would have making them. This was some seriously fun and satisfying holiday preparation and gift giving.
We understand that there are family members who still wish to give the kids gifts. For this we set up a Findgift.com registry and the kids pick out items from catalogs throughout the year that interest them. Santa came and surpassed the children’s minimalistic hopes (in a much more reasonable and thoughtful way). Our presents to each other were small and thoughtful. This is a process and it will be interesting to see what changes discussion and heart focus bring to our holidays next year.