Picking up from where we left off in the last post, we’re going to continue thinking about doing Christmas your way. So lets look at tackling gifts now and all that’s attached to that pickle!
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this time of year is all about presents. Consumerism has taken centre stage to some degree but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Harking back to history, gift giving had traditionally been at New Year but was moved to Christmas as it became more important to the Victorians. Initially gifts were rather modest – fruit, nuts, sweets and small handmade trinkets. These were usually hung on the Christmas tree. However, as gift giving became more central to the festival, and the gifts became bigger and shop-bought, they moved under the tree. Some people love to give presents, it’s how they show love (if you haven’t read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I thoroughly suggest you read it or do the test here).
But if you find the whole thing stressful (if gift giving is definitely not your love language) it’s okay to take the focus off of gifts. Tell your family how you feel about it and see what other arrangements you can come up with. I’ve heard of other families who have completely forgone gifts all together and donate money to a local charity instead. A friend of mine’s family gives each member a book that they think that person would enjoy – it sets their holiday reading up every year and gives the family something to discuss.
In my own family I’ve seen how we’ve change. When we were all younger, there were toys and letters to Santa to tip off my parents as to the one big ticket item we wanted, then it moved to gifting things that we all needed, and then when we got our own money we tried on Secret Santa and gave one present only. Now we value spending time with each other more so we moved to drawing a name out of a hat and taking that person out for an ‘experience’. My sister and I went for a fancy dinner for example, which we just loved. Now that several of us live interstate the format has changed again to gifting experiences instead.
If Secret Santa is something you want to start. There are several online programs that help organise the draw list, remind participants, arrange the value of the gifts and keep the whole thing totally secret.
If you do have youngsters, teach your kids the value of organising, decluttering and giving, by starting a holiday toy donation tradition. Help them sort through their toys and give as many as possible to your local Toy Library or op shop. This process will help you declutter your house as well as get kids to focus on children who are less fortunate than themselves.
Some great gift shopping tips are:
Food Glorious food!
The Christmas feast has its roots from before the Middle Ages, but it was during the Victorian period that the dinner we now associate with Christmas began to take shape.
The Victorians also transformed the idea of Christmas so that it became centred around the family. The preparation and eating of the feast, decorations and gift giving, entertainments and parlour games – all were essential to the celebration of the festival and were to be shared by the whole family.
While Charles Dickens did not invent the Victorian Christmas, his book A Christmas Carol is credited with helping to popularise and spread the traditions of the festival. Its themes of family, charity, goodwill, peace and happiness encapsulate the spirit of the Victorian Christmas, and are very much a part of the Christmas we celebrate today.
Some meal ideas:
The efforts that you make towards thinking about the upcoming holiday season are going to keep giving and giving.
Observe yourself and tweak your notes, what worked, what didn’t, do this and refine your organisation skills for next year and I promise you that next year’s events will be merrier than this one!
The holiday season, and end of year, is the perfect time to rejuvenate our minds and bodies as well as reflect on the good in our lives. Take advantage of the innate focus that comes with this time of year and evaluate how this year has been for you and consider where you’d like to be in six months time. By prioritising self-care, we recharge and are able to better handle the multitude of tasks that life throws us.
Remember that you don’t have to please everyone. Carefully consider the things you say “yes” to over the next month and a bit. See if what you do say yes to, supports your goals and priorities in life. If they are not truly important, you are not obligated to take part. If in doubt, say “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.”
We shouldn’t have to completely deplete our resources to enjoy the holiday season. In fact, this time of year becomes even more magical and meaningful if we don’t. xx