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)

What’s in a name?

Earlier this year, soon after Babyman’s birth & before handing in his birth registration forms, we changed our surnames so we all had the same surname. Wilde is a chosen name, not the surname either Liam or I were given by our parents at birth.

We talked about it a lot before we did it. Initially I suggested I take on his birth surname, without getting married. I decided against this because I felt less affinity with the name of his family of origin than I did with my own & I didn’t like the idea of “settling” for a name.

We had been talking about changing my name only vs choosing a family name for at least a year before we decided to choose something new (to us) & not connected in any way to either of our families of origin.

We discussed a lot of issues, including:

What will other people think?

Buuut, we can’t spend our lives worrying about what others think & ignoring the desire to do what makes us feel fulfilled. Right?

We can’t just choose to change the girlchild’s birth name, it’s not our right.

Yes, I actually thought this. Silly! Silly because we gave her birth name to her, we chose it in the first place. This was the biggest road block for me, Liam was into it, I was really getting stuck on changing a name she’d carried for 2.5yrs even though it wasn’t a name we’d chosen for her.

Patriarchy.

The idea that we deviate from what is the dominant culture surrounding family names in a patriarchy. By choosing a family name for ourselves we avoid the sense of man owning, & therefore naming, woman. (I understand this is not the way everyone sees it, yet it was something that came up for us)

Genealogy/family tree.

It’s not like our children won’t be able to track their ancestral heritage if they choose too. They’ll know their father’s “maiden name” (hehehe) & mine also, so they can just go looking it up using that information if they want to, same way I’d have to filter through many name changes if I were to trace my maternal lineage.

Funnily enough, the reason it took about a year from first floating the idea to actually following through with the act of renaming ourselves is because I was the one blocking it. It was my (half serious) suggestion originally, after discussing it for a whileLiam accepted it completely & wanted to do it immediately. I didn’t expect that, I expected resistance & I think I freaked out a bit when I didn’t meet it.

So we toyed with some names, we chose the one we liked the most went to the registry of births, deaths & marriages to hand in Babyman’s birth certificate registration complete with our new family name & a form for me, Liam & The Bubble.

As yet, we haven’t had a ritual to mark it for ourselves. It’s been a while now & we may not have a ritual at all. We don’t know how to go about it, what we want to include, whether we want to celebrate it ourselves or whether we want to make it a community celebration.

At the end of the day, ritual or not, we chose our family name & that in itself is a powerful enough ritual & acknowledgement of our committment to our family.

We chose the name Wilde because it felt like freedom. Names can carry a lot of power.

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (2)