I hate to admit it, but traditionally, Christmas has been my least-favorite time of the year.
It’s a long, long drive to visit my family.
Now, having said that, I really, REALLY like all of my family, and love to spend time with them. I love to eat good food…and I am related to a LOT of good cooks. I even like singing carols. It’s not really Christmas I get so frustrated with…it’s the blatant commercialism. The stores don’t even wait for Halloween to be over before putting out cheesy plastic santas and cheap plastic crap that is designed to poison your pets and kids (and planet). I’m not fond of malls at the best of times, but when I forget what time of year it is, and get stuck in Costco for TWO HOURS in an attempt to buy FOUR ITEMS, I hate Commercial Christmas all the more.
Dear Husband and I were discussing it last year, after the gift-opening orgy and subsequent broken and discarded toys, and decided: No More. We broadcast our intentions of not buying any more Christmas gifts. No more fighting angry crowds at malls, no more cheap disposable junk, we’re done with it. We told our families that we DO NOT, under any circumstances, want any more stuff.
We’ve held up our end of the bargain. Christmas gifts in our circle will be consumables: jam, canned fruit, pickles, cookies…all home made. And because we have been planning this all year, we picked extra, preserved extra, and have lots for everyone. Instead of wrapping them in (disposable, plastic-coated) Christmas paper, I dug out some fabric from the scrap box, and hot-glued it on the canning jar rings, with some ribbon. The jars are actually very pretty!
When we announced our anti-commercial Christmas plans, we thought we heard a few relatives heave a sigh of relief. We hope that folks don’t sell out at the last minute and get us crap we don’t want or need (especially with the big move coming up), and we hope we’ve given folks something they like. If not…well, at least we’re not wasting money or wrecking the environment.
Speaking of wasting money, there have been two huge benefits to giving home-made gifts. First: money. Our expenses happened back between June and September, the time when Hubby generally has more work anyways. We don’t feel the financial pressure like we have in the past. Likewise, we are not feeling as rushed, because the work was done in the summer and fall, when the days were longer and I had more energy. The only wasted shopping time this year is the two hours I spent stuck in Costco when I forgot it was that time of year and went in to buy tomato sauce and coffee.
The second big benefit has been social. With a pantry full of salsa, three kinds of pickles (carrot, bean, and beet), fruit preserves, and ten flavors of jam, we have been quite generous with family and friends. And neighbours. Colleagues. Random people who have helped us out. Our various clubs. Even the homesteaders in our area who we’ve met from internet forums. We can afford to be generous like that – we have lots! It feels good to be able to give people something nice, and folks seem to appreciate it.
Now, to see who holds up their end of the bargain…