This Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day, I’m reflecting on the opportunities that are present in our culture not just to reject consumerism but also to choose something better in its place. I fondly remember a Women’s Studies professor who wrote a book on Camus and feminist ethics. A major lesson offered is that of saying no and yes at the same time. So in the spirit of Rebellious Feminism and learning to live simply and fully, I offer a list of holiday traditions I will pass on (reject) and those I wish to pass on (keep/create).
Ten holiday traditions to undo:
- Agonize over finding the perfect gifts. I will not needlessly waste time and energy worrying about what to buy or shopping endlessly for something really special.
- Spend more than planned because I found the perfect gift. All too often I find something that I know the person would really like but it is either way out of my price range or I find it after I already bought them something else. This season I will spend within my budget.
- Buy decorations. This is not only a waste of money but also a waste of space. We already have two boxes of holiday décor in storage.
- Buy gift wrap. This is obvious. It will just go to the landfill or worse, the incinerator (as is the case in Minneapolis).
- Donate more money than I can afford. The holiday season invokes generosity in a wonderful way. However, our family budget is still limited with more expenses than usual. It is not the ideal time to be donating. Perhaps it’s better to take some time to plan our giving for the upcoming year.
- “Run errands” endlessly. It seems like every weekend in the lead up to the holiday is spent with running around town trying to “get everything done.” This season I will not make mile-long to do lists.
- Try to make it to everything. Because our families are not close in proximity, my husband and I made plans to alternate holidays with one family and then the other. One gets us on Thanksgiving and the other on Christmas, which we switch each year. Our holiday tradition will be one of spending quality time with family not flying from one event to the next with little time for creating lasting memories.
- Watch television. Unfortunately television has been the focal point of far too many family holidays. It is ALWAYS on. Yes, it’s fun to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “The Christmas Story,” but not more fun than actually interacting with the people we love.
- Send mass holiday cards. We have never really been into this tradition, and we probably never will. It is not particularly thoughtful, and it mostly just wastes time, money and resources.
- Bring a bunch of gifts home. Want to give my son a bunch of toys? Great, they’re staying at your house.
Now, not to be all bah humbug. Ten traditions I will keep/create:
- Sing holiday songs. I love holiday music. It makes the season feel festive. This year I will join a community sing. How fun!
- Worship. I must admit, I have a hard time making it to worship. Even on the weekends when we don’t have anything else planned. But after I go, I feel full in a way that I cannot find anywhere else. It provides both the solice and the fellowship that sustain me.
- Volunteer. The holiday season is a great time to start, especially with the intention of carrying it through the next year. Maybe I will finally make it to the Women’s Prison Book Project one of these Sundays to help sort. I am sure I have some books to pass on, too (feeding two birds with one seed)!
- Send thoughtful holiday cards. Yes, with personalized, nongenaric messages to friends and family.
- Write 4 Rights. I have missed Amnesty’s Holiday Card Action the past couple years, but this is a tradition I intend to bring back. And I think I’ll invite others to join me.
- Bake together. One of my favorite things about my grandma’s sugar cookie recipe is that it is too difficult to make on your own. You need help rolling out the sticky dough and frosting them once their done. I already have one baking day scheduled with the in-laws. Time to get together with the sister’s too!
- Make decorations & gift wrap. There are plenty of free, green, crafty ways to make our home feel festive. For this I look to Pinterest.
- Plan a meaningful activity to do with family. I need to think on this some, but I would like to bring one thing for us to all do together. This year on my husband’s side, we’re lighting off wish lanterns on Christmas Eve. A beautiful way to enjoy the night sky.
- Local/homemade gifts. I would love to make all of my Christmas gifts, but I’m not going to stress about it. I am sure I will buy some gifts in an effort to keep things simpler, when I do I will shop local or fair trade. Ten Thousand Villages is a holiday gift favorite.
- Send thank yous. A long-standing tradition of showing our gratitude. This year, they’ll be homemade with extra love.