...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Holiday Focus

The holidays are upon us; the season really took us by surprise this year.  It's been 5 months since we got rid of our television so without all holiday commercials beginning right after Halloween we almost missed the fact that holidays had arrived.  Which is sad because it just shows how much influence advertising has on all of us--even those who are trying not to pay attention to it.

Our holiday glow
Once again we are offering our daughter a taste of what various cultures and faiths are celebrating this time of year.  All the legwork I did last year to dig up information, books, and events paid off and I have the basic curriculum in place.  The Multi-cultural Interfaith holidays we celebrated last year were a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

Between all the activities and events we have on the December calendar this year we are hoping to find peace and calm.  Every year I feel more and more disappointed at how commercialized the Christmas holiday has become.  Whether you celebrate Christmas as a Christian or enjoy the spirit of the season in other ways, this time of year is an opportunity to slow down, reflect, give, be thankful.  It pains me to think about all the time people waste at the malls, all the money that's wasted on cheap stuff that breaks or gets tossed to the donation pile just months later, and all the debt people take on to give "happiness" to their kids.  There's got to be more to the season than that.  I am certainly planning to give gifts to family and loved ones, but we're focusing even more this year on non-material gifts.  I'm not even going to extra mile to make gifts or buy local handmade because I just don't feel like any of us need more "things" in our lives.  (Can you tell I'm currently in another mode of paring down, giving away, making the outflow more than the inflow?)

A little sparkle--vintage paper stars from the thrift store

This holiday will be special because we're not traveling at all.  We'll have a couple days to host my parents then a small break before a couple days of hosting my husband's family.  It will be my first time preparing a big Christmas dinner.  After our first Thanksgiving without either of our extended families we realize how important family is to our holiday celebrations so we'll savor every moment we have with them.

This season we're also working on our "Gratitude Tree."  We started it at our Thanksgiving table and decided we'd keep it going throughout the month of December at least.  But I wouldn't mind having some sort of gratitude jar throughout the year.  I used a bunch of paint swatches I had squirreled away to make tags then rummaged through my box of scrap twine, yarn, and ribbon to find hangers for them. I'm keeping a jar of tags and a pen near the tree so that whenever anyone feels grateful they can write down their name and thanks, and hang it on the tree.  Oh how full this tree will be by New Year's Eve!  It's been really amazing to hear what thanks our 4-year-old has.  She wanted to hang 10 tags on the tree on Thanksgiving alone and whenever she told me she'd thought of something else I expected it to be her favorite toy or clothes, but she came up with "Mommy and Daddy," "turkey," "my house," "my yard," "friends," "lights in our house," and "rainbows."  I expect this attitude could change for better or worse as she gets older, but we'll savor what we've got right now.

Our Gratitude Tree
We still have a long way to go in terms of teaching gratitude though.  There are plenty of days when this preschooler seems like an ungrateful brat, but I have hope that she's on the right track.  I've also been trying to find some volunteer opportunities for us during the holidays--which are hard to come by for the littlest ones because of liability.  But I've found that even the smallest ways we can find for her to help out are having a big impact.  We've "adopted" a couple kids and an elderly person via our neighborhood community center and are buying them gifts, which they may not receive from any other source.  We also attended a 25 Days of Grinchmas launch party last week at a local bookstore and are eagerly filling in our chart of good deeds (now to maintain that throughout the year…)  Of course, Random House may be ultimately trying to sell copies of their book (one of my favorite holiday stories, by the way), but it's creating awareness for young people so I'm okay with it.

I wish you all the happiest, healthiest, and most peaceful holiday seasons.  May you find joy and satisfaction in what you already have and enjoy spending time with the people you love most.  Peace!

My great-grandma's glass ornaments.  One of my
favorite holiday traditions.

No comments:

Post a Comment