Thursday, November 20, 2008

thursday thrift: holi-daze

There's something about these Thursday Thrift posts that is very clinical. I know they aren't very entertaining... they feel like my own personal Public Service Messages, and to be honest I don't know how to make them anything other than that: something you sit through that's sandwiched between the Kleenex and the toilet cleaner commercials, before Eli Stone comes back on. YES, I just likened my weekly blog entries to those The More You Know things. The More You Know: less literacy and mentoring tips and more discussions of holders/goers and questions about high school. Huh.

THIS Thursday I'm talking about dialing down the holiday insanity, and to that end, I'm going to make these thrift posts a more slightly more occasional Thursday thing. (I'm playing with my own stubborn streak, if you want to know: as soon as I tell myself that I don't have to do it, I'll be a hundred times more excited about doing it. Annnnnd that's how a person uses reverse psychology on HERSELF.) So there you go: my first tip for reducing holiday stress: give yourself permission to say no, to do something else, to walk away.

It sounds like a lot of people are trying to reduce their buying this Christmas, and I'm all for that. When I look around at the sheer volume of STUFF we have--- it's embarrassing. Chip and I have agreed that we're not giving each other any gifts that aren't handmade. This year we're focusing on Alice, and the best part about that is that she has no frame of reference (or for that matter, real memory) for what Christmas is supposed to be. I have a sneaking suspicion that she's going to be awfully excited about the boxes and paper strewn around the living room come Christmas morning, and all too willing to ignore any actual GIFTS.

For quite some time now, we've alternated who we give to and who we receive from among the siblings in both of our families. There's a little chart that shows each year - who gives to whom, and boy it helps to simplify the gift giving.

When it comes to stockings, I've long believed that they should contain a lot of everyday items that you need anyway: each Christmas Chip has been greeted with a stocking full of toothpaste, deodorant, gum, maybe the occasional matchbox car or something else fun and inexpensive. We usually get an orange in the toe. This comes from my childhood Christmases.

It sounds like a lot of you are trying to reduce the holiday expense and consumption using these types of ideas. I talked to someone on Sunday who is going to a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving with her family: when we have so much, doesn't it make sense to help some folks who are making do with far less?

What I want to call for is a return to enjoying this time of year for it's magic, it's wonder, it's warmth, it's ability to bring people together for no other reason than we're family. I don't remember what I got for Christmas last year, but I can tell you who I was with, and I can tell you that it was wonderful for just that reason.

In the end, dialing down Holiday Crazy is probably one of the easiest things to do, even if it isn't easy to write about. It's a whole bunch of stuff that everyone already knows: give thanks for your loved ones, enjoy the bits that you have and don't worry about what you don't, be grateful that you are here, show someone else that you care, take time to give back, feel the magic of the season and know it's a reminder that we can have peace on earth, good will to men (and women)-- if we let it, if we live it, and we can have it all year 'round.

Enjoy the holidays this year, my friends.


Maggie said...

Dialing down the Christmas crazy sounds problem is that I love the holidays, and so I get so excited about it that I lose track of things. You would think that I would out grow this...but it appears that I am not there yet...

Kristi said...

I always say I'm going to scale back, but then I get wrapped up in holiday excitement!! I love buying presents for people. I have set a monetary limit for my daughter. She gets so much crap from so many people that I don't think it makes sense for me to go crazy too!!

Chelle said...

Your post reminded me of a Christmas many years ago. One year my dad asked if we would use all of our Christmas funds to sponsor one of his home-teaching families (single mom w/ a bazillion foster kids). That meant no "stuff" for us - just for the other family. As a kid, it was rough pill to swallow at first, but as we delivered the Christmas presents to that family on Christmas Eve I finally got it.

I still remember that amazing feeling and can tell you that it was, by far, THE most AWESOME & beautiful Christmas ever. We had no gifts, but we had each other and basked in the warm glow of giving.

I know it's a bit extreme in terms of "dialing down the holiday insanity", but I highly recommend trying at least once... you will not be sorry (or miss those very forgettable gifts).