festive decisions

“Something they want

Something they need

Something to wear and

Something to read”

 

With December rapidly approaching, Bean and I had a D&M about Christmas last week. In the past it’s been a tough time of year for us, for many reasons, and we had elected not to celebrate it. Christianity is not our faith, so we thought we had little reason to celebrate Christian festivals. It’s hard to ignore Christmas though, as we both come from families who celebrate Christmas and we felt a lot of pressure to fit in. It’s not that our decision wasn’t respected by anyone, it’s just that we were still invited to family gatherings and still given gifts from family. We didn’t want to turn down an invitation to feast with people we love, and we didn’t want to accept gifts and give nothing in return, even though there was no expectation to give anything in return. So, we’d end up getting swept along with other people’s ways of celebrating a festival we didn’t want to celebrate in the first place.

For me, there are a lot of painful memories tied up with Christmas so I wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend it wasn’t happening. If I didn’t participate I couldn’t be hurt, or disappointed. Or so I thought. I don’t know anyone else who’s tried to avoid Christmas, but it’s not easy. In fact, we found it impossible. We’d always end up doing something.

This year, Sprout is four years old. She has noticed the decorations around town and has asked us what they are for. We told her they’re Christmas decorations, so naturally she wants to know more about Christmas. We have told her the mythology and explained that some Christian people (but not all) choose to celebrate Christmas as part of their faith, and that some people who don’t believe Christian mythology still celebate Christmas anyway as a family tradition. She tells us she remembers Christmas trees at other people’s houses last year, she remembers that we put one up too, but pulled it down after not long because she and Moe kept pulling the decorations off (or was it because I didn’t want to get swept up in that whole painful Christmas thing again?). She told us she wants to celebrate Christmas this year…

Eeek. Fears of a stressful December rush into my mind. Deck the halls with disappointment! I explained that her Dad and I don’t believe the Christmas story is real, that we think it’s just a nice story, so we haven’t tried very hard to celebrate it before, but that we would be delighted to celebrate the story with her if that’s what she wants. After all, it’s not up to us to tell her what to believe!

Now, her excitement has rubbed off on me. I am quite looking forward to embracing the season and putting our own stamp on it. We have decided that Christmas will be all about stories for us. While we don’t believe the stories, we don’t think that should stop us from celebrating them and the morals they present. At various times we commemorate or celebrate mythology from other cultures… Celtic mythology in the form of seasonal celebrations, Greek & Roman mythology in the form of stories – particularly as I was studying the history of aromatherapy and sharing my findings with the children when making up aromatherapy blends.

We are going to make our Christmas a truly handmade holiday. In the weeks leading up to it we will be making food and small crafted gifts for our loved ones. We’ll be decorating the small space we live in with a few modest handmade decorations. The exceptions to handmade gifts will be heirloom seed packets and oxfam unwrapped gifts or donations to particular charities on behalf of someone (in addition to the small, handmade gift we will make just for them).

We don’t do the Father Christmas/Santa Claus make-believe thing (for many reasons) but we know that Sprout and Moe will be asked what Father Christmas brought them. They’ll be asked if they’ve been “good” so Father Christmas will bring them presents (what a load of horse poop, they’re always good, they’re good people! They’re good whether they’re behaving in the way I want them to or not!). They’ll hear about FC from other people so we’ve decided that a great way to combat the question of what FC brought the children, while staying true to our desire for Christmas to be free from consumerism is to make a “Father Christmas Sack” in the weeks leading up to Christmas day. We’ll tell the story of Saint Nick, and talk about the origins of the character of Father Christmas. I’ll sew a small calico bag each for Sprout and Moe to decorate with fabric paints in whatever colours and design they choose, then we’ll put them away until Christmas eve when we’ll get them out again for the sprogs to leave on the end of their bed. We’ll tell the story of Saint Nick again, and tell the sprogs we’ll put a couple of (handmade) gifts in their Father Christmas Sack for them to find in the morning. They won’t feel left out when the extended family and friends discuss it and we’ll have celebrated another Christmas story in our own way.

Christmas day we’ll have a feast together, we haven’t deciced what we’ll feast on yet, but it will be delicious, whatever it is! We’re unable to join the extended family for Christmas day because finances don’t stretch to a trip to Perth at the moment so it’ll just be us. Small, and however we want to do it. We might even go to the beach, if the weather is nice. I always wanted to spend some of Christmas day at the beach when I was little…

Two days after Christmas is Moe’s birthday. We’ll spend Boxing day packing away all evidence of Christmas so Moe can have a special day that’s all about him.

Four more weeks to go… I’m determined to make it a great season this time.

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (7)

7 Responses to “festive decisions”

  1. bek says:

    We only do Christmas with family as well. Normally we have solstice feast, but we’re going to be flying on Solstice. I’m slowly but surely weaning the parents and in-laws of the desperate need to provide “something to open on the day” and we’re now down to presents get bought if it’s something that’s needed or that would be useful (mother in law is buying the entire family a telescope for example) otherwise instead of buying Stuff we donate the amount of money we would have budgeted for a present to Oxfam. Otherwise present craziness aside, it’s all about food and everyone coming over for us which is the best thing ever 🙂

    Your silly season plans sound good, hope everything goes smoothly and that it’s great 🙂

    • Kimberley says:

      We’ll be having a solstice feast too. That will probably be about the same size as the Christmas one this year since we’ll not be making it to our family Christmas, but normally it’d be the smaller celebration, being just us. We don’t know many folks who want to celebrate the changing seasons with us. Speaking of seasons, we’re also having a special dinner to welcome in the new season on the first “official” day of Summer next Thursday. We’ve decided we could definitely do with more feasting in celebration in our lives. We’ll probably start feasting for any reason now! haha
      It’s my plan to buy nothing new for people, excepting the seeds (which hopefully one day can be seeds we’ve saved ourselves anyway). The consumermass element of Christmas time really irritates me. I resolved to spend only what we can afford on the whole celebration (ingredients for presents and feasting) and give only as much emotional and physical energy as I/we can afford.
      I hope that over the years we’ll be able to shift our family focus from a Christmas celebration to larger celebrations at different times of the year but this year I plan to make Christmas day one of several special December days because Sprout’s asked for it.
      I hope you and yours have a wonderful time on your Christmas trip Bek!

  2. lily says:

    We do celebrate Christmas – it’s my favourite time of the year. As a child and teenager the celebration was fairly straight forward – the Nativity and mass, Santa Claus and family feasting. As an adult and parent, I have tried to incorporate many more traditional folk and medieval christian elements – makes it so much lovelier and much, much more thoughtful. This year, Abby and I have been reading a fascinating book – Holidays and Holy Nights together – it’s a sort of history of Christian feasts – the obvious, and others that have fallen by the way – and includes wonderful accounts of how they relate to much more ancient Jewish and northern european folk customs. As for presents – we too are trying to stick to homemade – I’m even using thrifted fabrics and supplies as much as possilbe. I’m sure you will be able to build lovely, simple, sincere traditions for your family – having seasonal celebrations upon which to anchor our year is so soothing and fun 🙂

  3. Vicki says:

    I have to admit, I love the trappings of Christmas. Not the commercialism, but the food, tree, (nice not crappy) decorations, thoughtful gift giving. I’m not at all religious, but I love the seasonal and traditional aspects of it.

    I’ve bought some cheap Christmas fabric and am planning to make bunting and other decorations out of it and put up a tree. I’m doing handmade for a few people and inexpensive for others. Not sure whether we’ll do Santa in some form in the future, this year doesn’t matter, he won’t know the difference. In the years after I left home I didn’t really ‘do’ Christmas and kinda missed it.

  4. Kimberley says:

    Thanks Lily and Vicki, I like hearing other people’s Christmas stories. Other people’s enthusiasm rubs off on me and I’m beginning to get excited…
    Just have to get past tomorrow’s exam and next week’s 3 assignments and I’ll be able to get right into it.

  5. Kestrel says:

    We call this time of year the festival of the family. Every year our family make up changes, sometimes it’s just us, sometimes it’s extended family, sometimes like this year it will be beloved friends joining us and we’re having our extended family Christmas feast today… I love when people take hold of festivals and make them their own, there’s nothing like some joyful excitement and delight to make it all okay.

  6. […] ago, just before the beginning of December and the beginning of advent for some people, I wrote a post about how we thought we’d approach Christmas this year. Here’s the […]

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