Saturday, November 23, 2013

SIMPLE // THE CASE FOR CHRISTMAS

 
Santa Claus is real.
 
Yes, legend says he is a jolly man who comes down chimneys and some of us convey this message to our children. In fact I think my husband and I will even go along with it, at least until our kids (ages 2, 2, and 1) are old enough to ask about him and understand why we might justify lying. But Santa Claus is more than the center of centuries of stories. He's the embodiment of a spirit of lighthearted joy, carefree giving, and peace + equality for all people.
 
I have always LOVED Christmastime. I won't judge you if you start counting down in July, December 26th I remind myself that there are 364 other days to preserve those special Christmas feelings. And that's exactly what I try to do. I often forget, but try so hard to remember, that there are opportunities to improve someones life every. single. day. Not just at Christmas time. In fact there might be a greater need for the 11 other months of the year, when Christmas isn't on everyones brain.
 
Each year we try to portray a Santa Claus-like spirit. We try to be giving, gracious, and remember the reasons for the Holidays. Spoiler: It's not all about the presents. Actually, it's about the presence. For Taylen and Dayr's first Christmas we gave them each a ball. Taylen got an orange one, and Dayr a green. We didn't choose to do that because we were broke even though we were but because we wanted to see their eyes light up when they received a gift, and help teach them true appreciation. Something brand new and special to them. We attended Christmases at family's homes throughout the season and every time our kids were so overwhelmed with toys and "things" that the sparkle was not in their eye. Yes, of course they were excited to receive piles of gifts, but did they appreciate them as much as the givers had hoped? The answer, unfortunately, is no.
 
This year my husband and I are "making a case for Christmas." We've talked about it off-and-on for most of the year birthdays, too, get overwhelming around here -what with two in February, mine in March, and two in April that's a really busy/gifty time. We are constantly and I do mean constantly, like, at least 3x/week doing the "serious conversation" thing overwhelmed with the amount of "stuff" we are able to accumulate. Moving from Nevada to Michigan we were broke, jobless, and left most of our stuff, which made us the prime contact for anyone wanting to get rid of stuff. On top of that we had new baby twin boys and a baby girl on-the-way - talk about the gifting gods raining down! We were so blessed and so fortunate to have all of our needs met AND more that we often claimed that we "suffer from abundance."
 
So what is this Case for Christmas I mentioned? Well, it looks a lot like this:
 
First off we're interested in a model if you will that Bob heard about on the radio but I can't find on the Internet? called the 5 Hands Christmas. It suggests giving one of these five "hands" as gifts:

1. hand-made made, or purchased, by/from someone crafty
2. hand-me-down a loved, but still usable/useful, gift
3. hand-outs give a few bucks to cover a bill, etc
4. hand-in-hand quality time spent together
5. second hand gifting from a thrift store

What a refreshing idea. Now those cheesy coupons "This coupon good for one back rub, etc" make total sense! I knew there was a reason I loved those all along. But in all seriousness, why are we not already doing this? Not only does it take the pressure off of Holiday shopping yes, I already pledged not to shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday - I never have before, why start now? but it also allows us all to give freely and stay within our budget, give gifts with meaning and thought, think deeply about the person doing the receiving, keep dollars local, not endorse child-labor, sweat shops, overseas factories and whatever other sneaky methods are being used to produce low quality, chemical-laden cheap plastic Wally-World toys that for so long have been the norm. My husband shared a photo the other day on Facebook that said this:
"Nothing says I love you like cheap crap made in China by slave labor, sold by a company owned by billionaires benefiting from corporate welfare, paying slave wages to employees kept from enjoying Thanksgiving with their families." I'm not claiming this statement as truth, but it does elicit a loud, smiling "Hallelujah!" from my lips."
 
I dare each and every one of you to try this. What have you got to lose? Certainly there is much to gain where matters of the heart are concerned. For my family, I hope you read this and understand our hearts. This is not meant as a criticism but rather a challenge to see the real reasons to celebrate a Holiday, such as Christmas, in the first place. Wondering what to give? Make a donation in someones name to a local/international/meaningful charity. Good in the kitchen? How about a few batches of your famous fudge, or a healthier granola/salsa/salad dressing recipe packaged up nice. If you know how to sew try dress-up clothes or a tee pee for kids, a hat/scarf/gloves for adults. Short on cash until after the Holidays? Why not give a coupon for a lunch/coffee/dinner date? I know Bob and I would love to be gifted a night out together, a rare delight for us, and finding childcare for three tots can get pricey! For our kids I'm secretly not so secretly hoping that my old keyboard stashed in my mom's basement might make an appearance this Christmas, or my ultra-handy dad might craft them a wooden gem, or even take them off our hands for a few! The possibilities really are endless if you put your mind to it.

It might not be easy, but if we're all on the same team it sure will be fun! Luckily for me I have an amazingly talented family to tap into. Nothing would make me happier than "hiring" my sister-in-law to crochet beautiful items for people I love. My money would be doubly well spent, my heart full, and beautiful gifts of love given 'round. I can't hardly think of a better Christmas gift. Let's give it a try and see how real this Santa really can be! 
 
 
ps - Check out our sidebar sponsors for some amazing homemade gifts!

18 comments:

  1. What a great post Crista! I agree that our Christmas holidays have become completely turned upside down. We're working on quality not quantity in our family! Thanks for the challenge! Guess where I'll be on Thursday or Friday! Spending time with family!

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that even one person is choosing family over deal hunting for the Holiday. Happy Thanksgivng, Christmas and beyond to you!

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  2. This is a wonderful post. Thank you! My boys have been getting so greedy and I finally had to sit them down and really remind them about what Christmas is really all about. I love all of your ideas for making Christmas more special.

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    1. Greed and entitlement are so very ugly, especially in children. Good for you for recognizing some warning signs and nipping it in the bud. It sounds like you're informed and paying attention, I am sure that will pay off!

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  3. I absolutely loved this post! The photo at the beginning is really catchy! Christmas should be about togetherness and love, but gifts are all over the place now..

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    1. Tory, you're right. A few well intended gifts are welcome around our home, but we are striving not to go over the top. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

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  4. I love this post! We, too, suffer from abundance! I try every year to make gifts for my family members. It is a little harder with my own kids, but I'm trying it this year any ways. I love the five "hands" of Christmas.

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    1. Megan, good for you for trying! I can't be certain that I got every detail of the 5 Hands correct as, like I mentioned, I can't find anything about it online! But the basics are there :) Here's a call to anyone reading this: if you find the 5 hands somewhere online I'll love you forever :P And be very appreciative! Thanks :)

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  5. Personally, I don't understand why deal hunting and family have to be separated. We have some really cool traditions that tie them together.

    Boo and I did make a couple of gifts this year and it was a lot of fun, too.

    Not all people find working on the holidays a horrible experience, either. I loved working retail on the holidays because I liked helping someone else make their wishes come true.

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    1. Jayne, I'm glad you left a comment, you make some good points. I think it's great that you and your family have those great bonding moments shopping, and yes some people do count on Holiday and overtime pay. I have a simple wish for less commotion over slave-labor toys and the need to accumulate stuff vs. gifts with thought, heart, and purpose or maybe regard for those less fortunate. There are many opportunities to bond doing those activities, too!

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  6. Great post and yes handmade is better than store bought!

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    1. Wendie, thanks for the compliment! I'm not claiming that handmade is always better than store bought, but hoping to raise awareness about the ethics behind the gifts we give, too.

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  7. Christmas has become so commercial. Last year we made gift baskets for everyone. :)

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    1. I'd LOVE to know what was in your baskets! Great idea :)

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  8. I love the idea of Santa Claus-like spirit! We need to remember what Christmas is really about and not focus so much on expensive store bought presents.

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  9. What a lovely idea - I need to rethink things for this Christmas, I'd love to do a more handmade - hands on time. Though hand-in-hand has to be my favourite part of Christmas I have to say. x

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  10. We don't do Christmas but very nice post!

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  11. This is such a great post and a great reminder! Seriously! And I'm pretty sure we got our twins balls for their first Christmas too... mostly because we were broke as well!

    You should link up at How do you do it?'s new weekly parenting link up! You have such great stuff on your blog!

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