I have to start by admitting I am definitely not the most organised person you will come across. In fact, I think it would be fair to say I am known for being pretty disorganised. So, it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that Christmas throws me into a right spin. It is the most joyous season of the year, the twinkling lights, the pretty songs, the joyful faces of little ones…I blumming love it! However, the last minute shopping, balancing piles of presents to make them even, remembering to write (and then post!) cards, wrapping the copious amounts of gifts, planning the main meal, other meals for the visitors, visiting relatives living a distance away and then trying to call it a relaxing break is a stretch.
Even so this year, when we decided to have a stripped back Christmas this year – for the sake of the environment and our wallets, I didn’t know how this would make us feel. The excess is something our family associate with the festive season, would we feel like we could take a main role in A Christmas Carol? I was fully expecting to feel less joy and a lot less spirit. We have been moving towards a more eco Christmas over the past few years but this is the first year we have made a real commitment to it (see my list below)
But I am very pleased to say, so far we are feeling so much more relaxed as we approach Christmas. Without the extra days spent panicking about buying soo many gifts and shopping, we are finding the time to make new traditions. We have spent a lovely Saturday evening slicing oranges and scoring tangerines to dry out in a cool oven. Followed by a relaxed Sunday threading them with cinnamon and little bits of ribbon onto wicker hearts. The whole thing just feels very relaxed.
More than that, our new approach has opened up conversations with usual gift recipients that I thought would be awkward. When we explained to family that we are cutting back this year, buying only a token gift that is picked with love and thought but with a budget and ethics in mind, we were greeted with nothing but positivity. It seems that everyone has been feeling it but no-one has been saying it. Now, with the climate crisis smacking us hard in the face we all feel we can. And you know what, it is a relief!
Moving away from consumerism this Christmas has really made me notice how consumerism has done the exact opposite of what I have believed. Consumerism, far from giving us a better experience has diluted it. Making Christmas decorations has been so much more rewarding than shopping for cheap mass produced ones. Spending time planning homemade Christmas food more rewarding than shopping in the freezers of the local supermarket. It may only be early December but already the house is filled with the smell of oranges and cinnamon, we are doing more together as a family to prepare for Christmas and the gifts asked for have been requested because they are actually wanted or needed.
This year, instead of moving big piles of presents around our living room so we can sit down with lots of plastic wrapped junk food to watch crap TV the scene will be different. Small piles of presents that won’t dominate a room, home baked treats and a good old fashioned board game. I will be raising a glass to new traditions, better traditions,more sustainable tradition. And a more positive set of expectations for the next generation. And I for one, couldn’t be feeling more festive!