On December 1st, I turned on the radio in my car and heard my favorite Christmas song “2000 Miles” by The Pretenders. For the first time I wanted to hear a Christmas song and thought that maybe this weekend, while my husband was away, I would cheer myself up by looking for a tree in the forest to bring home and decorate.
He left for his homeland of Florida to visit his brother and old friends and escape the fear of winter. His winter dread doesn’t help my seasonal fun, and my spirits aren’t soothed by his winter dread, so maybe I’d better decorate the tree while he’s gone.
Last year’s lonely Christmas with a pandemic broke our traditions. We hope that this year the children and our usual Christmas guests will be with us again.
Our Christmas holidays are usually simple because we are largely allergic to shopping and waste, but we love the holidays anyway. On Christmas Eve, we sing hymns to animals. Every year I make a wreath for the front door of fir trees in the hedge, and every year the goats eat it, sometimes before Christmas and sometimes after. This is a tradition.
When the kids were young, we didn’t think much of the commercial nature of the season as advertisers insisted that you should buy gifts for everyone you know and that more spending, more receiving, more packages to open equates to more holiday cheer.
It was not difficult without a TV. We focused on music and baking, gathered herbs and berries in the forest for decoration, brought cookies to friends and neighbors, and read aloud by candlelight and a Christmas tree. Of course, we exchanged gifts, and Santa filled the stockings with fruit, chocolate and other things elves can do in the workshops. When we spent the holidays with our family, we liked to come a little later, on Christmas, after the nieces and nephews tore up their piles of gifts and calmed down a bit.
Eventually, the kids went to school, and we wondered how much our home leave would change if elementary school teachers included Santa’s wishlists in their curriculum. I remember a corridor lined with phonetic letters from first graders, decorated with images of deer and elves. I enjoyed vocalizing their long lists of requests – for specific brands of toys and full-size ATVs, computers and TVs, and for dolls, puppies, and matchbox cars. Found the older one: a request for a clockwork bird with a key and a drawing of the same. It made me smile — plus I knew about the store that had little old-fashioned wind-up toys in the back.
Much has been written about how to simplify rest. Suggestions include specifying the ending number on the amount you spend or the number of gifts you give; search for used treasures; creating your own scoundrels; give “experiences” instead of things; or knowingly reducing waste from food production, packaging, packaging and driving.
Everyone has their own traditions of holidays, but least of all I like stress, debt and unnecessary trash.
A little thing works for us, but that’s because we do it all year round. Not everyone enjoys doing things and shopping at thrift stores. But there are ways to preserve our traditions and be aware of the needs of our planet.
Greenpoint appears every second Sunday. Look for him next time, December 19th. Get to Margaret Hartley in [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. The opinions expressed in Greenpoint are those of her, and not necessarily those of the newspaper.
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Categories: Life and Art