Help! I'm done with Christmas. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 43 Old 07-16-2002, 01:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This year, ds1 and I are aspiring toward a non-consumeristic holiday. And neither one of us wants to continue telling the other 2ds or dd, now, about Santa. He thinks it's mean to lie to them, I DID NOT put this in his head, he's a very forward thinking kid (almost 8yo). Dh usually goes along with what I want with the holidays, he's not big into planning anything, unless it's a bash with our buds, and even then it's "come as you are". We have been hosting a Christmans Eve party for family and wayward friends , and I would like to continue with a similar tradition. But I'm moving toward Paganism, it's true.
I've been back and forth about joining a church, but it never feels right when we go. Even at the UU church we used to attend, dh felt uncomfortable, no real reason, he's got a thing about "joining" anything, I'm kinda the same way, but I feel more of the need for ritual and the corresponding celebration . I'd like to do as much on my own, with the kids, as I can without the Church Picnic, KWIM?
I guess I'm really just thinking out loud, but does anyone have any suggestions? Know where I'm coming from? Gotta start planning soon, it's already July! We need time to get the family used to the idea, that is, the IL that have already begun "shopping". I won't dictate to them about their gift giving, and I don't want to make a HUGE issue of it, actually I was hoping to influence their behavior in years to come, despite some of them having strong Catholic beliefs. OK, guys, let me have it...
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#2 of 43 Old 07-16-2002, 01:37 PM
 
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Hey hon!!

I can so relate. I think my parents wore me out on Xmas as a kid. Alot of the Christmas traditions have pagan origins, so you might want to investigate that. There might be some parts that you want to keep. We concentrate on celebrating the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the rebirth of the sun at that time. We do it on the actual day of the solstice and then usually see my parents on Dec 25th. There are some great books on the winter solstice and it's historical association with Christmas.
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#3 of 43 Old 07-16-2002, 01:52 PM
 
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Just want to say I'm with you on this! Our family is going to move towards celebrating Soltice in a wonderful and magical way, and having Christmas day be more of a minor holiday to acknowledge with, say, a special bedtime story about Christ. I read something by that woman from WholeChild/Whole Parent that she reads her kids a version of the Christmas stort where the emphasis is how Jesus' parents knew he was a son of God as in a holy being, in the same way that every child, every person is divine, and then the significance of Christs life is, wow, look how much love and light a person can spread throughout the world when they just know that they are part of the divine...all of this told as a sweet children's tale. I'l have to find it...
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#4 of 43 Old 07-16-2002, 02:05 PM
 
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Being Jewish, I can only tell you what we do with Chanuka, even though it goes against everyone's grain in our families. And this is specifically related to the "consumer" aspect of the season.

The Jewish tradition, first of all, is really just to give Chanuka gelt, or money. When I was little, my grandfather put out a bowl of change and whatever we could hold in our cupped hands we could keep. As we got bigger, obviously, the amount grew. It was sweet. We've told our children that Chanuka is about light (which it is), not toys (which it's not), and we only give a gift near the end of the holiday (the night known as "Zos Chanuka"), and the gift is specifically related to tradition/religion/spirituality.

The problem we face ... and which you will, too ... is everybody around you who doesn't share your view, and will want to foist their ideas of holiday cheer at your children, reinforcing the very ideas you're trying to dispel. We have asked our families to either not get gifts for us, or for those who insist, that they wait until the night when we will open them (the aforementioned Zos Chanuka).

And getting a gift specifically for tzedaka (charity) is also wonderful, meaning one that the children will bring to a hospital pediatrics ward or a needy children's organization. Relatives love that one, 'cuz they can get the gift for your child and feel righteous all at once.

The last problem really is other children, who will be raving about their cache of consumer-minded-craziness to your child who will have to be strong to deal with it. We haven't figured that part out yet , except to try really hard to raise children with solid sense of self.

- Amy
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#5 of 43 Old 07-16-2002, 05:47 PM
 
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We are also moving in this direction, it's funny your post came up now because last night the kids got down the Christmas story books and have been reading them and I found what I want to get for dd for Yule in a catalog. (wooden dollhouse) We will probably merge some traditions, and like Arduinna said many of the classic "Christmas" traditions are actually Pagan in origin. We will probably save gifts from the relatives and stocking for the kids for Christmas this year, but make Yule our big family celebration. We usually just exchanges gifts (ie I get one gift for each child, dh gets one gift for each child, the kids each pick a gift to give to each other) . As Yule gets closer I am sure you will get lots of great ideas on how to celebrate, right now I am trying to get ready for Lammas.:
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#6 of 43 Old 07-16-2002, 08:22 PM
 
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There's a great book you'll want to check out: Unplug the Christmas Machine.

Enjoy!
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#7 of 43 Old 07-17-2002, 04:55 AM
 
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We celebrate it all LOL.
We started doing this last year. Are Xmas tree is full of Fairy ornaments, suns, moons, and stars. I just bought lights at Target with golden suns all around it. We read about the different myths that encompass the holiday, including Christ myths since we have a religious extended family. We usually open gifts on the Solstice. And since everyone at my DH's job is Christian, (hotel), he works on Christmas and DD and I go with him. We overall do many many crafts together, making things for other people. We also bake for other people, giving them as gifts. We really have a great time.

This holiday we plan on making a makeshift nativity for our alter. Maybe 3 Goddesses, a meditating Jesus, a Buddha. We still have time though.
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#8 of 43 Old 07-17-2002, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I've been hooked on this show called 7th Heaven on our Fox network, and the other day they had a Christmas show about how the kids all pick from a hat for the gift giving and the rule is you have to make the gift or barter for it, you can't buy it. This tradition will start in our house this year! We have four children, and every summer I have to take a carload of toys to the City Mission b/c of all the junk they get at Christmas, I just don't want it to be like that anymore! I tried to tell everyone last year that the gifts were so much of a burden for us, we live in a small house, two br, etc...and although we appreciate their generosity, it's TOO MUCH! They never listen. Just thinking about it makes me queasy. I am determined to make stuff this year, though, as it has been tough to do that the other years, I was usually pg or just plain tired!
And I think the xmas eve party will be replaced with a solstice party to ease them into it. But I really want to start our own traditions, as many of mine are wrought with bad consumeristic vibes from years past. Everyone thinks we're the freaks in the family, they expect no less
Was gonna thank everyone individually, but that baby's gonna wake up soon! Gotta go and get those boys out from under the tv!
Thanks for your suggestions! Keep 'em coming!
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#9 of 43 Old 07-17-2002, 11:27 AM
 
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Shawna, thanks for the tip on target, I've been looking for more Sun themed items and those lights sound perfect!!
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#10 of 43 Old 07-18-2002, 05:32 AM
 
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Arduinna, you're welcome. I fell in love with them at first sight. They are expensive compared to little-bulbed Christmas lights, but they are exactly what I didn't know I wanted LOL.
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#11 of 43 Old 07-18-2002, 11:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, shawna, you are playing on my biggest weakness--Target, spoken in ze manner de francais, or is it du francais?--anyhoo I might just have to jaunt on out there in the morn tomorrow, they open at 8:30 ya know...
One thing that came up in my discussion with ds1 is that I am of Irish heritage, and I explained the timing of Christmas,etc..., and we could focus on that, so it wouldn't be so much like we're just going off the deep end with it
Man, I gotta go again, I'll be back...
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#12 of 43 Old 07-18-2002, 11:39 PM
 
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Darn I went yesterday and they didn'thave any. She said they discontinued them. Bummer. I will keep my eyes open.
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#13 of 43 Old 07-19-2002, 12:03 AM
 
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Yikes. Just the word Christmas makes my heart pound.

My mother always made Christmas very wonderful. It wasn't religious for us, but it was spiritual. The gifts that we she gave us were practical and very well thought out. There was a lot of making things ourselves and singing and seeing family. We also lit Chanukah candles and did a little for that (no presents) since my father is Jewish.

When I grew up I picked Judaism and went into it in a big way (if anyone wonders how I did that with a non-Jewish mother, I converted). I wrote off Christmas, which made my mother sad and totally crushed my in-laws (my husband was also a convert). We allowed "holiday gifts" for a year or two but then even that got too weird for us.

Many years and two children later, we woke up and realized that Judaism was not for us. But neither was Christianity. We didn't feel we could deny our parents the pleasure of our company at pr around Christmas anymore, but it still had no meaning for us. Chanukah still had more meaning to us than Christmas. Add to that that my two daughters' birthdays are December 18 and 20 and then that while we are decidedly not pagans we are still attracted to pagan ways of celebrating the earth's cycle, and December becomes a jumbled mess of confusion.

I don't know how I feel about any of these holidays, except my daughter's birthdays, but on top of their celebrations, I feel compelled to go to my in-laws super-materialistic Christmases (they are awful), find a way to celebrate somehow with my mother, pay some homage to my Jewish past with Chanuka, and recognize the solstice.

This past year my mother came up with the brilliant idea of not doing Christmas at all and having a family solstice party instead. It was wonderful, and I was so grateful to her. I really hope this becomes a tradition. It took the pressure off of finding some Christmasy way of relating to her as well of finding some way of fitting a solstice celebration in with all the other things going on. It's funny because I think she's always wanted to move what we do on Christmas over to the solstice, but was always afraid of the rest of the family's reaction. But we all loved it. We had a lot of family over, a bonfire, a festive meal, sang carols that weren't explicitly Christian (i.e. Deck the Halls), exchanged just a few thoughtful gifts, and it was great.

Of course then I still had to go to my MIL's over-materialistic Christmas celebration. No amount of talking to her will get her to buy fewer toys and focus less on them as the meaning of the day. I'm not looking for Christian meaning, but for an overall feeling of love and kindness and sharing, and that's definitely not what's going on in MIL's house.

With all the gifts my girls get in December from family and friends between their birthdays and the holidays, I don't give them a single object that month. I have learned instead to give them things during the year if and when I find something that is right for them at that time. They never even miss the gifts from me.
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#14 of 43 Old 07-19-2002, 03:24 AM
 
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I'm sorry Arduinna! Do you live in a large town? I live about 45 min. north of Austin, Tx and when I go there it seems they are WAYYY ahead of the stuff we get at our Target. Actually, it seems that way at most of our stores LOL.


Sunmountain, get out! I have been giving Target a french twist for I don't know how long. It's so funny that my dd thinks that's what it's really called.
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#15 of 43 Old 07-19-2002, 10:20 AM
 
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Shawna, yes I live in a city of about a million people. I think they just sold out of them. I know we have lots of pagans here and they probably jumped all over those things, lol. I'll have to check at some of the other Targets around here.
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#16 of 43 Old 07-19-2002, 10:21 PM
 
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Hi all,
My dh and I have been trying to figure out how to get away from all of the consumeristic attitudes of the holiday too. It is really hard for some reason not to get caught up in it. We celebrate the solstice as well as Christmas cause of our family but I think that my mom is going to wean into the solstice though, at least I hope so.
I really like the 7th Heaven thing, Sunmountain! Good idea, I am going to bring that up to my mom.

I am going to tell my dd what my mom told me about Santa which was that he was a spirit. Santa was the spirit of the giving in the season. For example, you know how around that time of year magic things seem to happen a lot? Like when you don't have the money to have a nice Christmas dinner (bad example) and then you get a check in the mail out of the blue~ That's Santa! Okay, so that's the greatest example but you guys know what I mean?

I really love the whole gift making, food making and story telling thing which is what I think is slowly starting to take over at least on my side of the family anyway.

What are some of your fondest memories of the season? I have to think about mine and get back to you all. Whooops, baby calling, will be back later.
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#17 of 43 Old 07-20-2002, 01:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Kalinka!

hydrangea, I have considered the monthly gift thing, instead of all at once, but the IL come over and expect the kids to open every last gift in front of them. Trying to hide the gifts after that is next to impossible.

My worst memory happened two years ago at my MIL's house. Our three boys (dd wasn't here yet ) and two of their cousins were all opening their gifts at the same time. I tried so hard for each gift to be acknowledged and for the boys to properly thank the gift giver, but chaos was bound to ensue, and before I knew it, the living room was a jumbled mess of paper and toys. I was heartbroken when the gifts I so carefully picked out for my neice and nephew were literally thrown aside without so much as a thank you. I vowed never to put my children in the middle of that craziness again. Fast forward to the next year where my other ILs came to our house with their Jeep packed to the gills with toys, after my stepMIL had just agreed with me a month before that we should start toning it down, that the excess was going to mask the real meaning of the season if it didn't stop.

My favorite part of that 7th Heaven show was when the kids figured out that the parents "fix" the name picking so they always got eachother, and they even fit in a little "Gift of the Magi" storyline.

One of my favorite memories as a child includes going to midnight mass at our church, if it was snowing, they would take me on the sled And we always put up the same decorations every year, when I got old enough, the creshe was my responsibility. As the kids get older, it will get easier to instill the meaning of the season. I want to make a family tradition of working at the soup kitchen, not just at this time of year, but periodically throughout the year, and giving gifts to families in need.
Originally, I wanted to give out NO gifts this year, but of course that is just simply unrealistic:
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#18 of 43 Old 07-21-2002, 01:06 PM
 
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Okay, I decided that my favorite thing about the holiday was decorating the tree! It was always this big thing in my house. We would get the tree, always a tall Charlie Brown type (We always got the trees from our land picking one that was crowded, that sort of thing.), Then my Dad would put the lights on while my Mom made hot chocolate and cookies. It was always a blast, we would spend the evening going through the ornaments and putting them on the tree, drinking hot cocoa and stuff. Then my mom would tell us a story after it was over and then we would go to bed. I always looked forward to getting the tree, the best part of the season IMO.
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#19 of 43 Old 07-27-2002, 04:51 PM
 
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I would also like to have a solstice celebration this year. In my family, and apparently my dh's family as well, Christmas has always been a meaningless celebration. And we're tired of breaking the bank to buy presents for all those people we care about.

But anyway, sunmountain-- I had an idea when I was preg how to avoid dd becoming immune to the idea of recieving presents on Christmas. I didn't want her thoughtlessly throwing aside presents like a lot of kids do. My idea is to have dd make something for some of our closest family members. Even if it's just a card. Then she will know how important it is to have a gift be appreciated.

One problem for us celebrating solstice is that we go to another state to visit relatives, none of which are pagan. And we're always running around so much that we don't have (or take) the time to make the season memorable and meaningful to us. Sad.
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#20 of 43 Old 07-27-2002, 08:40 PM
 
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Sunmountain, I've been thinking about this a lot as well. Here are some ideas that I have come up with:

--Instead of exchanging gifts, take a family trip. Not to Disneyworld or a commercial beach, but somewhere where you can focus on time together and celebrate the holiday with simplicity and peace.
By avoiding spending Christmas with the parents/in-laws, you'll probably be able to escape the deluge of presents. If the parents/in-laws live far away and expect to see you once a year at Christnmas, placate them by planning a trip to see them a couple of months either before or after Christmas. Or you could invite them to come along (provided that they understand that there will not be a gift exchange)


--Give "New Year's presents" instead of Christmas presents Same old frenetic consumerism but at least you're not desecrating a sacred holiday. Oh yeah, and you will be able to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales and so spend less $$.

--Start a family tradition of setting aside a special Christmas tree in a special spot. Over the years this tree will gain more and more ornaments which will symbolize gifts that were given in the recipients' name to charities. So, as my gift to DH, I might donate to his alma mater and give him an ornament in the college colors. As his gift to me he might donate to Oprah's Angel network and give me an angel ornament for the tree. Etc. etc. Eventually the tree will fill up with ornaments and you can look at them all, remembering the gifts. They will probably be among the only Chrismas gifts you'll ever actually remember.

Last Christmas I did this for my friends--filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas child in their names and gave them angel ornaments along with a long letter detailing the contents of the boxes and telling them how much they blessed me and how I wanted to bless others, etc. They all loved it and thought it was very special.

--If getting out of the gift-buying isn't feasible, you can always resolve to get it over and done with (and wrapped) by Nov. 1. THen you can take it easy and actually enjoy the season stress-free. You can pour alll your energy into making memories wiht your family.
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#21 of 43 Old 07-27-2002, 11:08 PM
 
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Hi Sunmountain I try to simplify Christmas . Our Family is very generous but have asked them to cut back on the gifts. We give gift certificates so our family can get what they need. On Christmas morning we make pine cones with bird seeds to give a gift to nature. This year we plan on making a cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Also have a pre Christmas party. We will ask the guests not to bring gifts but bring hats and mittens donate them to a local homeless shelter.Hope this helps.
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#22 of 43 Old 07-28-2002, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Libras mom, I am so honored your first post was on my thread!!!
OK bay crying,,I swear I'll be back and tell you what we've dcided...
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#23 of 43 Old 08-21-2002, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, my very-Catholic mother is now my very-supportive mother in regards to us having a Solstice Party instead of Christmas. But she made me promise to include some "magic" into the holiday for the kids since we won't be perpetrating the myth of Santa any longer...now to explain it to the others. Well, they already think we are freaks, so might as well jump in with both feet, right?
We have decided on a theme of moons and stars, with my snowman dishes and some poinsettia cloth napkins as accents. We now have two palm trees, and will decorate them every year accordingly. I just got rid of all my colored lights and will stick with white now. Ds1 is getting very excited. Now we have to decide on gifts. I want them to be homemade, but I am just pooped with four kids ages 6mo to 8yo. So I guess we'll just have to see about that.
You guys have been such an inspiration!
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#24 of 43 Old 08-22-2002, 01:52 AM
 
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Sunmountain, that's great!

I mentioned earlier in the thread that my parents had their first solstice party this year. They had a huge bonfire, and we stood around it and drank mulled wine or cider and sang non-religious carols. A lot of the carols that are sung at Christmas don't even mention Christ and some are even attributed to non-Christians. Deck the Halls is an example. I even found a website that had non-Christian carols and pagan words for Christian carols, but I don't have it bookmarked. This was great because caroling was always one of my favorite things about that time of year.

Then we went inside to lots of candles and twinkling lights, a "solstice tree," and a wonderful meal. Oddly, each family just naturally decided just to give one gift per household (i.e. my aunt and cousins gave one gift to my parents and at/home children), so everything worked out wonderfully.

Of course then we had to go to my in-laws super-materialistic Christmas a couple of days later. Blech.
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#25 of 43 Old 08-22-2002, 11:10 PM
 
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Hi sunmountain, your ideas sound great. Im glad you brought up this topic. It has me thinking of the holiday season. I might borrow your sun and moon theme . Happy planning.
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#26 of 43 Old 08-22-2002, 11:13 PM
 
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oops. moon and stars.:
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#27 of 43 Old 08-23-2002, 10:28 AM
 
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In our family we have switched to celebrating the winter solstice (as a solstice/christmas hybrid), which for us does not have an association with a gift giving frenzy. My "gift" to my friends and family is a meal of very special (complicated yet yummy) food. We have a beautiful tree (fake but pretty), tons of decorations and we sing christmas carols. Can't do much about the in-laws, I have to admit, but the family core values ar intact.
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#28 of 43 Old 08-24-2002, 04:52 AM
 
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Wow sunmountain, your worst memory sounds like every Christmas with my in-laws. Fortunately as the family has grown more full of grandchildren and after 8 years of asking for the gift giving to be toned down, it is tapering off. But, we literally still have to bring 2 cars to get the gifts for our family of 5 home from the in-laws. Here's something that I found to work to some degree though and hopefully it will help others. My MIL is also the overly-materialistic type, but her heart is in the right place. She truly means well and for that reason, asking her to give less gifts is like (in her mind) asking her to show less love. Twisted, I know, but that's the way it is. (Don't get me wrong, I love her dearly-she is a wonderfully generous person in many ways.) Anyway, she really feels the need to be giving something, so I started asking her to give the kids/our family things like a year membership to our local Aquarium or a State Park annual pass or anything else of that nature. This works for her (sometimes) because she is still giving something and it works for me because it is something I don't have to find a place for and something we/they won't be bored of by next month. For birthdays, I've convinced her to give them things like a special art workshop or dance class I couldn't fir into our budget. It has been a wonderful compromise!
My kids and I tend to go the route of celebrating the cycles of Mother Earth more and this year I WILL plan an official Solstice celebration no matter how hard it is to get it into the schedule.
Hope the tip is helpful!
Jennifer
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#29 of 43 Old 08-24-2002, 02:05 PM
 
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Seems like several different issues are being discussed here.

1) Anti-materialism. You want less gifts from extended family? The idea of gift certs for lessons or family memberships to parks or museums seems great! Also a gift cert to a bookstore or crafts store might work, if y'all like books and CDs, or crafting. Yule is about presents, I happen to like giving and getting them, but we don't go overboard, and live hundreds of miles away from extended family, and don't visit them at this time. I think it is a good thing to give away old toys to charity and get new stuff, if Grandma insisits. They get to show their love, and the poor get stuff too.

2) Coming out of the closet with pagan leanings. For christians to consider, Jesus' birth was assigned Dec 25 as a nod to other gods of ancient times who were also associated with the winter solstice. The Roman Satunalia and the gods Mithras and Osiris were all celebrated on or near that day. So Jesus is the reason for the season, while a catchy saying, is actually the reverse.

3) Songs to sing. There are many carols not specifically religious in tone. Jingle Bells, Over the River and Thru the Woods, White Xmas (it mentions xmas, but not Jesus' birth specifically, it seems more concerned with good will and the beauty of nature), "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire," any Santa song (think of him as the Holly King, with all his horned god representatives), Rudolph, Home for the Holidays, Blue Xmas by Elvis, All I want for Xmas is my 2 Front Teeth, the Chipmunks' cute versions of songs, I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Holly Jolly Xmas, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Here We Come A-wassailing, etc. If you just like the Little Drummer Boy and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, as I do, and want to sing them, the Goddess will understand, I bet! Why do you think there were goats and cattle in the barn, where Jesus was born? Horned gods! (LOL, just my opinion, of course!)

I think we humans, at that time of year, all have a craving for lights, candles, fires, hearty food, trees, wreaths, snowpeople, special clothes, songs, and gatherings with family and friends, including gift exchanges, as we can afford it. It is the darkest day of the year, and we want to say, bah, we will survive! Whichever god we assign to the holiday is up to us.

I will amend the above by saying the Jewish people's tradition, while also concerned with miraculous lights, were a desert people, in a warm climate, so didn't have the same emphasis as northerners did, on evergreen trees, for example.

Blessed be! Daryl
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#30 of 43 Old 10-05-2002, 02:41 AM
 
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Last year we bought tickets for us all to go to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra! It was wonderful! We still talk about it! We are making more 'memories' as the years go on. We remember the concert, not what folks gave us! We also make candy & cookies every year! The time spent cutting out shapes in dough is so much more fulfilling than shopping! And who doesn't like a box of cookies/candy? We made potpourri oranges studded with cloves too as gifts. And we always get about 40 pounds of mandarin oranges to give away! They are the BEST!
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