When I was young I began thinking about Christmas in September. I made my list, mailed it to Santa, and every day hoped that he would bring me that special doll or toy that I so badly wanted. My family usually spends Christmas baking cookies, playing Pictionary, listening to “Go Tell It On The Mountain” by Dolly Parton, and setting out cookies and beer for Santa and broccoli for Rudolph. But this year Christmas would be different than any before. This is the first year that Ben and I are spending Christmas as a married couple and the first year that my family is not getting together and having a big celebration. In fact, Ben and I will be alone, just the two of us on Christmas. Since playing Pictionary and setting out beer and cookies for Santa isn’t the same with just two, we decided that it’s time we start our own traditions. We came up with a few ideas…
Giving Throughout The Year
We chose not to get gifts for each other. At Christmas when there are so many important friends and family we want to give to, finding just the right gift for each person can be frustrating. Instead, we give gifts to one other at other times in the year, and focus on others during Christmas.
Upcycling & Recycling Homemade Gifts
We are choosing to make or buy (from places like Etsy) meaningful homemade gifts. We’ve been focused lately on learning all about our impact on the environment so we selected five up-cycling projects who’s main components were used or eco-friendly materials. We made a kids tool-belt and lavender sachets out of scrap fabrics (from our wedding). We took old books that haven’t been read in years and turned them into secret hiding places. We filled pretty teacups from Goodwill with soy wax and organic essential oils to make cute candles. And for our youngest niece, we made a color matching game out of almond milk caps. Ben dug thorough his Dad’s storage boxes and found old family VHS tapes and converted them to DVD for his aunt, uncle, and brother. Gift-making this year was super fun.
Donating Time & Money
We like to give small donations to causes we feel are important. Recently our ’causes’ have included artistic projects— if we don’t support our artists and keep art alive and thriving, then dreams and inspiration for everyone will die with them. We’ve supported sailing programs for the disabled, worked with autistic children, and delivered food to people on the streets. This year we decided to make it a Christmas tradition. Each year we’ll select one project or charity to which we’ll give time, money, or both to during the Christmas holidays. I realized I don’t feel comfortable spending money on gifts that people don’t really need without considering those people who really do need something, often something as basic as food. I was browsing the bookstore a few weeks ago and picked up “The Life You Can Save,” by Peter Singer. I can’t comment on the entire book because I only read the intro, but it was enough to convince me that if I don’t give to meaningful causes then I’m not doing my part in being a good citizen. So, on Christmas day this year, we delivered boxed meals and clothing all over Northern Michigan to families and individuals in need.
A few years ago Ben and I began studying the benefits of raw foods. On New Year’s Eve we made a resolution to go 100% raw for 100 days. It’s possible to stick to anything for just 100 days, right? It was an experiment that had results we didn’t expect. We felt healthier, energized, never sleepy, never hungry. I was surprised by how much I loved preparing raw meals and Ben loved eating them. We were challenged and frustrated at times but we learned a lot about food and our bodies. It was a great resolution. I can’t remember what gifts I gave or received that year, but I will always remember the impact that our “Raw Resolution” had on me. So, our other new holiday tradition is to make a meaningful 30-100 day resolution each year. It has to be one where we are challenged in a meaningful way, and one where we will learn and grow. We’ve been thinking about it for a while, but haven’t decided on what 2013′s resolution will be. Any suggestions?