I hate to be the bearer of exhausting news but the holiday season is right around the corner. Personally, I think it’s obscene to see Christmas wrapping paper and Halloween candy on display at the same time, but there it is. This is the world we live in.
|Image from Premier Packaging, shared via Creative Commons Licensing
I have been on a family campaign for the last several years to do less, buy less, spend less and hype less around the holidays. It only kinda works. My family, to their credit, are all generous people, and this generosity comes out at Christmas time as an occasionally overwhelming stream of gifts.
Having kids has exacerbated this issue. Grandparents are a gifting force to be reckoned with, is what I’m saying.
The deep-breath-holding of anti-consumerism that has swept the country since the recession started in 2008 has made my lower-spend Christmas campaign trendy, at least. No one in my family really wants stuff – what we want is time, skills and help. I want babysitting and sewing lessons and garden help. When we do ask for things we get pretty specific in our requests – an extra set of trays for the dehydrator or a refractometer for measuring sugar content in beer and wine.
Plus, job situations and incomes are different than they were four or five years ago, and many family members just aren’t in a position to throw money at the holidays as they once did.
So I think everyone is on-board conceptually with taking the volume down on Christmas, but I swear on December 23rd some kind of mania overtakes us as we all throw one more gift into the basket for a loved one or five whom we had already crossed off the list. Somehow, despite agreed-to financial limits, the gifts multiply under the tree like rabbits left unattended, and then the givers are stuck with the January bills to pay. This is what we’re all trying to get away from.
This year, at a holiday planning session with my sister and mother, my sister mentioned that her husband had floated the idea of an entirely homemade/second-hand Christmas. I had, independently, the same idea. Ignoring what this probably means for the economic outlook for merchants this holiday season (financial bloodbath), it’s an appealing idea.
But embracing a Very Homestead Holiday means really, truly embracing the idea that it’s the thought that counts. It means letting go of this tit-for-tat feeling of financial obligation that can tarnish the brightworks of even the most well-meaning expressions of love and appreciation.
I like to think we are pretty well equipped to make gifts: it is a rare person who wouldn’t welcome a few gallons of Homebrew Husband’s beer, and a bundled up package of my jams and preserves along with a booklet of recipes and some homemade scone mix is pretty damn Martha-rific (you know, in the good way), if I do say so myself.
What homemade gifts represent more than anything is the transfer of time. Which means, if you are going to give a labor of love instead of a store-bought gift, you gotta plan ahead.