View Full Version : Christmas conundrum / ideas to deal with the consumerism of the season

12-8-11, 2:36am
Hi Y'all
Just read this blog and like some of it's anti-consumerist ideas, they'd be useful for the whole year. She speaks of buying with a conscience and giving as examples.
Note, a bit religious sounding but the ideas are good.

12-8-11, 8:06am
I can definitely get on board with her anti-consumerist message.

12-8-11, 8:57am
What an enjoyable voice she has! Thanks for the link. I like the idea of giving children an opportunity to GIVE as a family spiritual practice.

12-8-11, 6:02pm
Thanks for the link, worldfoodie!
I have a 12 year old and I think the desire to define/express oneself through clothes, earrings, etc. is to be expected at this age; I don't think it's a sign of horrible greed or brattiness. Because we homeschool, my daughter is less a product of the tribal school mentality, but still, labels (Aeropostale, Ambercrombie, Gap, etc.) matter to her (that's why she prefers Salvation Army - she can get the best!) It was fun to read her memories of being this age.

BTW, I love your avatar - cute kittie!

12-12-11, 3:16pm
We had rich doctor friends when I was a kid - and their daughter who was a few years older than me - and tiny, too would give me her hand me downs. Ooooo - it was better than Christmas morning when a box would arrive. Guess, Limited, Esprit, Benneton. Ahhhhhhhhh and free. To this day I am a bit of a label whore - but anything I buy is from a thrift store. Just yesterday I bought a nice pair of KangaRoos slip ons for $4. To me, as stupid as this may sound, it is some guarantee of quality. :0! Because I am not skilled at judging quality on its own merit (ie without the label).

12-20-11, 10:18pm
I love this. Personally my family doesn't exchange gifts and our young adult son was commenting on how he wants to keep Christmas about Jesus for his own family someday. He simply loved the idea of gifting the kids money that they in turn gift to those in need. Thank you for sharing this.

12-20-11, 10:58pm
it is very nice.

i have opted out of a lot of gift giving all around, and while we also don't worship jesus in any season, we have also opted out of santa. hawk has no clue who the old man is, and my husband and I realized that this level of mythos is just beyond him. We do tell him all manner of stories, of course, because we feel stories are important in general, but we find that some of these are far more complex.

the real story of "st nick" or santa claus is far more precious. a poor man had two daughters, and unable to care for them or provide a dowry, he looked to selling them into sexual slavery. the local priest -- st nick -- was a wealthy man, and apparently gave (by throwing the money anonymously through a window) the man enough money to create dowries for both daughters and to care for them, rescuing them from sexual slavery. Yes, sex trafficking has a long history, and st nick is pretty much the first known guy to really get up in arms about it -- preaching against it, even speaking against the need for dowries for poor women, and so on and so forth. And, he used the wealth he had to provide dowries so that the sacriment of marriage could exist, rather than the sins of fornication and sex trafficking.

The other attributed stories are actually germanic and pre-christian, about a healer/medicine man who would travel from village to village rescuing sick children from all manner of illness in the winter using mint (dried, chest rubs, etc), and vitamin c (in the form of berries (dried and preserved), rose hips (dried and made into tea), pine (tea, chest rubs) oranges in more southern areas, etc).

In finland, the fellow rode a goat. The finns lay claim to the "original and true" santa claus coming out of the saami people -- of northern finland -- who rode a goat, wore colorful clothing (the saami wear very colorful jackets), they also herd reindeer, and were considered some of the best/scariest shaman-healers in the known world at that time. They could time/space travel, apparently, and would be consulted before viking journeys and would tell of the weather patterns, the lands they would find, the dangers they would face, and how to survive them. The one who rode on a goat, travelled around frequently speaking both hope and doom for many people across finland and most of scandinavia, and was known to be a great healer of one's anscestors, so that sins and illness wouldn't pass into future generations. A practice that shaman still do today.

I think this is too heavy for a 3.5 yr old, right? Yeah, so no point in going there.

We have purchased him no gifts, but i realized something today and yesterday. our friend bought DS a droid. A knee-high R2D2 that follows voice command and will tootle at you like the real thing. It can also carry it's own 12 oz beverage or play ball. DS is quite certain that he has a new brother, as we have had to read stories to the both of them before bed each night, and the droid has his own seat at the table.

But, watching our friend -- on skype -- who has two grown daughters watch this 3.5 yr old boy open and gleefully dance around and become ridiculously excited about the battery-operated brother. . . i saw what was happening. I looked upon the droid in horror, and he in great glee, and watching that glee is. . . infectious. So infections that I'm developing my own affection for the droid. I even offered him some eggs this morning.

Today, we opened the presents my ILs sent. I have to admire their frugality. Two wooden cars, gotten for free from the church's nursery's clean-out. One wooden plane -- which DH and FIL made together when DH was about 9 or 10 years old. Two large puzzles. 4 outfits.

I was horrified and overwhelmed by the amount of stuff, but watching them watch him become excited about each toy (the wooden cars and his plane being the clear favorites), and watching him joyously play with each object. . . what can I say? it is infectious.

When we return from our holiday in early Jan, we'll go through it again -- with my Parents, whom I know bought him toys and clothes as well.

I have no need to buy him a thing, of course. And i am grateful for what others have given him.

I wish that they knew that to get this level of excitement from him, you need only offer to read him a book or play a game -- yes, even on skype. He is such a "boots-and-all" kid.

But I get it now. I see what it is. They love watching him light up like so many fireworks. It is the joy i see every time he reads curious george again. And they don't get to see it all that often.

I will still seek to contain them a bit. Of course. But, i'm starting to get why it happened this way.

12-21-11, 3:10am
Thanks Zoebird for the "st Nick" history. Yes, I hear you on the grandparents desire to make your son (and themselves) happy with their ability to give. Don't know what i'd do personally with that given your sons age, but he'll be older soon enough.

12-21-11, 7:50am
Great article! She posted some useful links, too.

Our family is devoutly Catholic with decidedly Franciscan leanings and we have been paring down Christmas since baby #1 was born almost 8 years ago. It's gotten to be a very simple beautiful affair for our family.

We also have told the kids about the historical St Nicholas, who is Cheyenne's patron saint (her middle name is Nicole), but we still give Santa gifts in his honour. Santa gifts are nothing big, though. Sometimes it's a colouring book and some candy, one year they got fun little cookie cutters. Next year I'm thinking of getting the girls some fun yarn for crocheting with. They still think it's fun.

We make a lot of our gifts by hand most years. This year we are on the road for a month so we are mostly doing experience gifts.

12-21-11, 4:46pm
that sounds awesome, stella.

we are overwhelmed by family/friends this season. so much so that we spent the morning, as a family, decluttering. Daddy let go of stuff; mommy let go of stuff, and hawk decided that he no longer needed his baby toys. I said we could give them to babies whom he knows, and he got excited -- so I texted the moms and we'll be stopping by today to drop off the toys to the different babies. Hawk is very excited about this. He loves babies.

so, this has helped -- but we still have the gifts FROM my parents to give him, and he has already said "i don't need any more toys." the 3.5 yr old said it.

anyway, DH and I have decided to tell our families that we are going to go with no toys for the next year, and we'll re-evaluate at christmas next year. Otherwise, it's just TOO much for him and for us.