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!