Yes it is just around the corner that either dreadful or delicious time of the year. For many the holiday preps are a chore, stressful and too often expensive. For those who thrive on routine and regularity, the inevitable schedule change awakens anxiety. For some family reunions too often gone wrong is a source of many more headaches. Many want to get it over with as quickly as possible: too many family get togethers or too few; too much food or not enough; a proliferation of gifts, often unnapreciated and many times useless because given just to give, or on the flip side very few things to give or receive. This is a very short list of the possible discomforts, pains and sources of frustration from both sides of the wealth and health divide.
The holidays are a time when depression runs high, drinking problems are more visible and prevalent and over spending becomes even more common to compensate for the accumulated emotional woes between family members over the year.
In anthropology gifts are understood as binding: they obligate others to reciprocate if not in kind at least in favor or feeling. Very rarely is a gift free of emotional or social ties. Some theorists have argued otherwise however. But is there any good that can come out of this tradition?
If all this sounds pessimistic it is! There is a lot of misery out there during this time of the year glossed over by the shinny adds and the glittering windows, the sparkling decorations and the ho ho ho Santa prancing around with his helpers in the malls. This is a consumerism version of the holidays. But we can do something about it.
For one I am advocating the month of December as the month to make things together. You can start earlier, like now. Don’t wait to overbook the period between December 22th and January 2nd to see everyone you care about in your contacts list; start the process now. And while you’re at it………….make your gifts together.
Mix friends andfamily, include the kids. Do a parent-child make your own cards afternoon; get together withyour friends to transform found items; raid the garage, tool swap and upcycle with the guys; make preserves, special mixes or decorated cookies with the members of the club or association you belong to; invite your daughter’s friends to make home made stamped papers andtags to wrap things with; plan a dads and sons meet-up to revamp, rewire, remake something to give it new life; make gift baskets with the neighbors; create gift certificates offering an afternoon of dog sitting, garage clean up, taking your sister’s kids for a day; transplant those overgrown plants for your elderly aunt; give time and experiences: give a cooked meal, whatever you feel comfortable in doing; be creative with your time and talents. You can even double up on on the idea by teaching your kids to make creative experiences possible for sick and needy kids for example, or elderly who are alone in homes: bring the creative materials and make things together and voilà: creative experiences that teach sharing and helping in a fun way.
The advantages of doing so are multifaceted:
- you improve your relationship to all the people you include
- the meaning of Christmas is transformed
- giving becomes more personal
- overspending can be curbed
- you give wonderful memories to your children (and all involved), who WILL DEMAND more of the same
- you teach meaningful values in the process
- you give them the opportunity to show off their talents in a meaningful way
- they look forward to the giving not just the receiving
- you can get to see more of the people you care about in a less hurried fashion
- did I miss anything? I’d love to hear your ideas.
To add to these ideas read the following web sites:
- A Do-It-Yourself Christmas: 34 Great Gifts You Can Make Yourself
- Ask the Readers: Favorite Frugal Christmas Ideas?
- Inexpensive, Original Hand-Made Christmas Gifts
- Gifts kids can make
- Cookie decorating party
- Gift wrapping ideas
- Great teacher gifts
- Christmas decorating ideas at MakingFriends.com
- Alternatives to X-mas consumerism
- Patterns and projects ….add noseam
- 100+ Homemade Christmas Gifts for the craft-impaired
- For the technology comfortable and more adventurous creators try MAKE magazine and blog
- Video game informed crafts (many others there)
And finally if you have a bit more time there is a 6 part story on being frugal at Christmas and some reasons why:
- Fantastically Frugal: Conscious Christmas part 1
- November 11, 2009 – Fantastically Frugal: Conscious Christmas part 2
- November 12, 2009 – Fantastically Frugal: Conscious Christmas part 3
- November 13, 2009 – Fantastically Frugal: Conscious Christmas part 4
- November 17, 2009 – Fantastically Frugal: Conscious Christmas part 5
- November 18, 2009 – Fantastically Frugal: Conscious Christmas part 6
Happy relating and making…. good for everyone’s emotional health!
18 nov 2009