Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Considered Christmas (Part Two - Joy)

Yesterday, I said I loved Christmas. I especially love how we do Christmas. Over the years, we have developed a few little rituals and ways of doing things to make our Christmas celebrations fit us perfectly as a family. There are a thousand ways of 'doing Christmas well', keeping the Earth and its people in mind, and finding a way that fits your family is essential, otherwise you will be unlikely to enjoy it or repeat the experience. With that in mind, I am going to share how we are preparing for Christmas this year in our house.


This is an old photo - don't worry, our tree isn't up yet!!

This year, we are selling the bulk of our pre-children shop-bought decorations in favour of homemade ones. Some will have been made by me, such as our advent calendar bunting, and some will be made by the children. A couple of friends and I have organised to do a Christmas craft 'swap', where we each plan one craft activity to do with all of our children, and most of these will be Christmas decorations.


This is probably the biggest area that we differ from the 'norm'. The gifts we give each other generally can't be found in a department store catalogue, and most of them will cost nothing. There are a couple of exceptions - I bought each of the kids a wooden toy from a friend's home based business, and I am buying Nath a hunting knife from a man who makes them locally. Most of our gifts, however, will be homemade. If we do happen to venture out to the shops for gift-buying, it will be to op-shops.

For extended family on Nath's side we do a Kris Kringle. Each brother (and partner if they have one) 'buys' for another brother. I use the term 'buy' loosely, as while there are no restrictions, a lot of us tend to homemake our gifts for each other. Since there are five brothers and four of them are married, it reduces the gift buying dramatically. For everyone else, it is handmade. Grandparents love gifts made by the kids, and we tend to give the kids' great-grandparents a homemade jar of something, and a photo of the kids.

We have stockings, which I made, but they are by no means stuffed full and consist of smaller handmade gifts (such as the halos in the picture - which didn't last too long!!). Our kids generally only get one or two gifts from us, plus their stocking, then maybe one to share.

Our wrapping 'paper' this year will be made from Christmas-y material for the gifts going under our own tree, or recycled paper painted by the kids for everyone else (our butcher is old-school and still wraps everything in butchers paper - I love it.) I am making all our gift tags by hand (apart from the ones the kids will make with their friends) over the next couple of nights.

If this all seems like it will take a lot of time, remember, we don't watch TV, and I save a whole lot of time by not needing to do Christmas shopping!


I only buy one thing outside of my normal grocery shop - and that is a grassfed, organic, free range pork rolled roast from The Naked Butcher. Other than that, we just shop as usual, spending the same amount as usual, and make everything from scratch as usual. This year we are camping with friends from December 23rd until after the New Year, so we will take our standard camping fare along with us. Food gifts are made with things we generally have on hand anyway, or things in abundance in our garden. We even make our advokaat (alcoholic egg nog) from scratch!

Spreading Some Christmas Love

My lovely sister in law, Mezz, posted a question on her blog yesterday, which prompted some very thought-provoking discussion with our kids. What can we do to spread a little extra love and care around at Christmas time? Here is my comment on her blog after our discussion:
Hi Mezz,
Thanks so much for this post. We used it to provoke some very special conversation with the girls. We posed your question, then told the story of the REAL 'Santa Claus' (our kids know the man in the red suit is a fake!!) and talked about how in our area there are loads of people whose Christmases may not be very happy ones.
We decided to focus on our local Women's Refuge (there are often children staying there too) and the girls decided to wrap up some of their toys they don't use anymore to give as presents, make some Christmas cakes and Christmas decorations, and take them all in.
Unfortunately, most Christmas 'welfare' campaigns focus on people outside of our own communities. Its really important to focus back in. Our kids are so darn privileged, I worry that they may be growing up without a real understanding of some of the issues their own local people deal with everyday.
The girls made me so proud during this discussion! The ideas were theirs (except, of course, that we suggested where our gifts may go to), and we are very much looking forward to making extra decorations and cakes to brighten up other families' lives!

So, in a nutshell, these are our Christmas plans. Like I said, this way of doing Christmas suits our family perfectly, but I would love to know how you and your family celebrate!

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