Saturday, December 25, 2010

Trash-free Christmas?


As you may have picked up from skimming the last few posts, I have issues with Christmas. My first issue was that I was afraid to even admit that I don't like Christmas. Only heartless people don't like Christmas, right? Well, this year I was determined to avoid the numb feeling that seemed to invade my heart around Dec 1st, and whole-heartedly tackle this wonderful holiday.

So I was forced to ask myself, "Why, exactly, don't I like this holiday?" It's not because it's Jesus' birthday. I love Jesus. It's not because it's at the beginning of winter. I like winter, almost, if I have enough socks on. Then I figured out my dislike of Christmas lies in the American version of the holiday, which includes overspending, overeating, general over-doing of the holiday. I found myself clutching my husband's shirt, shrieking, "CHRISTMAS IS NOT IN LINE WITH MY VALUES!"

A friend recommended a great little read (Hundred Dollar Holiday), a pastor had a great sermon series (Babylon A.D., about the American consumer society being the modern-day manmade empire), and all of a sudden I was given permission to celebrate the holiday in a simple, real, more Keri-like way. (Why I need "permission" to do the right thing is a whole other dissertation.)

In reality, not much changed.

My children each received one needed, pre-owned, non-packaged gift from us parents. My close relatives received one or two needed items, lovingly and frugally purchased and packaged. My other relatives and friends received edible, homemade, or repurposed gifts from us.

But I'm hopeful for next year.

No trash? No excess? No fret?

Check out how beautiful homemade gifts can be:

Here's how I chose to use all that glass I had around.

Here's my first attempt at making marshmallows.

My mother is so kind and actually called them "gourmet," even before she knew I made them. I love that woman.

Here's how me and the hubby get busy after the kids are in bed.

The picture doesn't show the ONE HUNDRED AND TEN OF THESE THAT WE MADE.

Here's how spiffy some (almost) trash-free gifts can look. They are packaged in butcher paper and decorated with mesh bags that oranges, garlic, avocados come in. The paper can be recycled and the mesh bags get one last hoorah before heading to the dump.

And some out-of-town grandmas received a super-cute and affordable photo book, with pictures like this:

Here I am with my family.

Do I look relaxed? Do I look like I'm enjoying the holiday? Compared to last year, when I spent most of the time in the fetal position (at least mentally), I'd say the stars are brightly shining.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest post on Simple Organized Living!

Would you believe that a super sweet and useful blog posted an article of mine as a guest post? It's about maintaining my limited time, money, and sanity.

Pop on over there and check out some of my strategies!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day? Christmas Yoga Day!

Oh, the weather outside was frightful, but inside it was delightful.

It took three school districts (one 5am phone call, one 6am phone call, and one check online) to keep my family home today for a Snow Day. Nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

Since we were all awake and excited about the day off, we decided to get moving and grab the camera along the way. What resulted was a fun and active Christmas Yoga. Kids brainstormed ideas and poses while one of us adults snapped the pics.

Christmas Tree Pose

Christmas Gift Pose

Angel Pose

Candy Cane Pose

Nutcracker Pose

Shepherd-Staff-Sheep Pose

Journey to Bethlehem Pose

Menorah Pose

Melting Snowman Pose

Mary and Child Pose

Frankincense Pose

I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm Pose

Let it snow!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why this Christmas is already better than the 13 previous ones.

Some of you may know about my deep dislike of Christmas. And my decision to embrace the holiday this year.

It's December 12 and you might be wondering "How's that goin' for ya?"

Let me tell you.

A few things have stacked up to make this a WAY better holiday that I had hoped for.

1) I had my nervous breakdown early this year. That's right, I just got it out of the way on Dec 4, so there's still plenty of time to actually enjoy the season! During this emotional elevator, the idea of Consumable, Sustainable Gifts gave me such hope. So wherever possible, I'm going to try to give food or natural fibers as gifts. (Have you seen these ice luminaries? My first one is freezing outside right now!

2) Later that day, I picked up the book Hundred Dollar Holiday from the library. (Thanks for the recommendation, Ann!) The main premise is that spending far less money on Christmas gifts, far less time standing in line, far less energy fretting over busyness allows you to spend more time with family, with music, with the outdoors doing more meaningful, memorable things. I'll take that! I felt encouraged: spending less money on gifts does not make me a Scrooge. Instead it is our consumer culture, tricking us into thinking that real Christmas comes in a box, needs batteries, or costs a lot, that is the real Scrooge.

3) The next day our pastor started a sermon series about how our consumer culture is like the modern-day Babylon, an empire that we've built to avoid God, an empire that we have no power to overthrow except through Jesus. It felt so great to have someone give voice to my unrest, and from the pulpit, no less. Practical tips included celebrating Advent (a yet uncommercialized time of year) and reducing gift spending.

Over the years I've had varying degrees of culture shock and unease (sounds strange coming from an American living in the U.S., but it's true), and it's always stronger at Christmastime. Now I feel like I've been given permission to celebrate the holiday (and spend my energy) in ways that I value: with family, with music, in the outdoors.

Who knows? Next year it might be me welcoming Christmas with a Tree Skirt Dance!