2007-12-30 08:01 in /life/holidays
So, when I posted about attempting a $100 Christmas, I had forgotten that my brother’s apartment was robbed about a month ago. Naturally, that limit went out the window in order to help him replace things he lost. Other than that, gifts were fairly modest. I haven’t tallied things up, but it looks pretty close to $100. Next year, I’d like to follow the suggestion of others, and move more towards gifts I made or that have some sort of personal touch to them. And, we’ll see whether I can get the rest of the family on-board as well.
2007-12-17 21:00 in /life/holidays
A couple weeks ago, Sandro posted about Buy Nothing Christmas. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that, but it reminded me of something I read about last year and wanted to try: the Hundred Dollar Christmas. So far, I’ve only spent $10, but that’s just one present, and assumes you don’t count the cost of plane tickets to see my family. I imagine about half of the total will go to something for the little one.
I haven’t even thought about presents for my mom and brother. The last couple times we’ve talked on the phone, we’ve done the old, familiar bit where no one really knows what they want and we defer discussing the whole business until I’m in town. Honestly, the thing is, we’re all comfortably well-off and if there’s something we really need, we’ll just go out and buy it. And, speaking for myself, I really don’t want more stuff. Consequently a bunch of what’s on my wish list at this point is things like gift certificates for various services. We’ll see if I can convince people that that’s really the sort of thing I’d like, and not more books to add to my already long queue.
2007-02-16 16:40 in /life/holidays
2005-01-03 20:17 in /life/holidays
This is a somewhat belated Xmas / New Years / what-have-you review. We spent 10 days back on the East Coast braving cold, crowds, holidays, and nearly-constant TV.
Our arrival was a bit of a shock as the temperatures dropped 20 degrees from when we had checked the weather reports the night before leaving. It was cold enough to snow almost all the time we were there, but the weather did not accomodate, leaving us to wonder what the point of cold weather is if you aren’t at least getting some pretty snow out of it.
We had our second annual winter solstice dinner. While it is nice that we can now safely label it a tradition, it was a bit disappointing because not so many of my old friends from the area were able to make it. Also, there was a bit of confusion all around over just what this family tradition is going to be all about. I suspect that will gradually work itself out over the next couple years though.
Christmas itself was also a bit odd this year. S and I have been thinking and talking a lot over the last year about clutter, materialism, consumerism, simplicity, happiness, and, of course, parenting. We had some discussion with our families recently about our feelings, and our desires to approach the holidays as something other than a time to give everyone a bunch of “stuff” that they don’t necessarily want or need. We had somewhat limited success. It turned out that my mother and brother actually needed some things (he a new set of tires, she some work around the house) and we were happy to give them those things. However, we ourselves ended up collecting a smallish, but still annoying, pile of stuff that we didn’t really want all that much. I sort of blame ourselves, though, for not being explicit enough about alternatives to “stuff” to give us. I intended to put a list of charities I like on my “wishlist”, but didn’t get to it in time. I also like Nathan’s idea of sort-of adopting a needy family for the holiday season, but again wasn’t organized enough to pursue it. Of course, we have, over and over, suggested “come over and see us” or “come over and babysit” as something we would like.
Speaking of which, this is the first year that the little one is old enough to start understanding this whole give-getting thing (not so sure about gift-giving, although she did bring us home a nice painted-herself candle lamp from pre-school a couple weeks ago). We tried to be pretty explicit about our guidelines, but we were still unhappy with the outcome. Of course, that’s at least partly because our guidelines were fairly frequently ignored. To be fair, she didn’t get an obscene pile of gifts (in fact, when we actually inventoried, it was significantly less than we thought), but given that she already has too many toys and too many books and enough clothes and goddammit-we-want-less-clutter, it still upset us.
It’s also probably going to take a couple weeks to recover from the television barrage of our vacation. My mother seems to have either changed her habits, or taken note of our past complaints, and at least there the television in the living room was off most of the time we were there. Upstairs in my brother’s room it seemed to run almost 24-7. And, everyone else we visited seemed to need the TV on constantly as well. In the case of S’s relatives, at extremely high volume too boot. (Ostensibly to “test out” the brand-new extremely big television that replaced, in the course of the 24 hours we were there, the merely quite big television.) End result is that we have had to put a lot of energy into re-enforcing that in our household we do not watch TV constantly.
There is probably a lot more I could say as a result of this trip, on topics related to consumerism and our attempts to find our type of happiness in our household, but this post is long enough already. Maybe I’ll dump some of those further thoughts out some time in the upcoming weeks.