Alternative Holiday Traditions: What do you Do??? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 01:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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December 6th and the holidays are coming... Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Years, and more... 

 

I would like to reform some of the traditions I have received.... primarily the materialist aspect of the holidays. My daughter is 11 months and this will be her first year to experience this season. It may not be consciously remembered, but it seems a great opportunity for our family to forge some new traditions. I would love to know what your family does... I really want to abandon the bought gift habit... do only handmade gifts if we have time and if not to give each other the gift of our time and attention... to spend quality time in nature together and cooking/baking/making things together. 

 

Do you have any new/old traditions you use in your family that emphasize the quality of love and giving, rather than the material gifts bought from a store? What other traditions do you celebrate together?? Thanks for sharing!


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#2 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 10:10 AM
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#3 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 12:28 PM
 
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We like to have lots of friends over throughout December. We make homemade decorations, decorate Gingerbread houses together, sit and drink mulled wine/listen to Christmas carols, and hang out. It's just so nice and cozy, and cheaper  than going out someplace.

 

A cookie swap is always fun - this year I'm doing one with a natural parents group I run and each person will leave with 4 dozen cookies of various kinds eat.gif

 

I actually enjoy the gift giving, but only because it's time for my kiddos, DH and family to get special things. Homemade, local, etc.


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#4 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 12:33 PM
 
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As of last year, I do an activity advent calendar. Today, we're baking shortbread and making paper snowflakes (that's two days worth, because yesterday's activity fell through). I mix up baking, crafts, big activities (usually one or two - the huge events that usually require admission...1,000,000+ light show at the big garden, Christmas train, etc.), little activities (going for a walk to look at lights) and things we'd do, anyway (getting/decorating the tree, a couple of Christmas movie nights, etc.). I listen to the kids when they talk about things they enjoy doing, and remember to incorporate those things. Oh - and the day before Solstice, we make a pinecone birdfeeder, then we go for a nature walk and hang the feeders on Solstice. The feeders went pretty quickly, so I may make and hang them on Solstice this year. I'm not sure.

 

In addition to the calendar, we have the same breakfast every Christmas, and we just spend the morning together hanging out in our PJs. We do exchange gifts (bought - I, for one, don't have any skills for handmade), but not a huge pile.

 

We also do a lot of singing of Christmas songs/carols.

 

ETA: After reading the pp, I wanted to add that I would probably do an Open House on Boxing Day - just have people over to nibble on baked goods and such, except that 1) dh really doesn't like having people over, and 2) both my mom and sister usually have open houses, which I attend, so I wouldn't have time!

 

Oh - and one of our advent things is packaging up baking to deliver to some of our neighbours. This year, everything's come apart and we're not organized, but next year, I want to sponsor a family for a hamper, too.


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#5 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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For me its about the activities too.  My son is 17mo this year so I am ramping it up a bit.

 

My favorite holiday thing?  The Dickens Faire.  Someday I hope to actually get involved...

 

We have also been making ornaments from the citrus and herbs in our yard.  We went and collected pine cones.  We've collected other stuff like pretty leaves (especially ginko leaves) decorative berries and mini pumpkins (from the community garden).  I'm all about decorating the christmas tree this year with as much natural stuff as possible to make it safe for DS to enjoy.

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#6 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 01:34 PM
 
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I'm in the same boat. I would like to recenter the focus of Christmas/Winter Holiday to be about less materialist ideas and more family/giving oriented. I haven't been very successful in figuring out just how to do that. DD will be 22 months, I don't think she gets it just yet so I have one more year to really figure it out. I'm still debating whether to do Santa! One thing we are doing is next weekend I'm making sure to get together with my mom to decorate a tree, make it a fun thing. I'm going to try to come up with some more fun, mostly free activities. It doesn't help that my own beliefs aren't very concrete, and I don't know what to center things around.

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#7 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 02:35 PM
 
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We don't have firm traditions yet since DS is still so young.  I'm playing around with traditions I had as a child and new traditions I'd like to add.  One big thing I've started for the first time this year is to try and focus on extending the holidays.  Really make it a season instead of a holiDAY.  To that effect, on top of Christmas, we're doing an activity/small gift advent calendar, we celebrated St. Nicholas Day on 12/6, and we plan to do something small for St. Lucia's (12/13), the winter solstice, and epiphany.  The advent calendar has been a little overwhelming to keep up with (and we're only on day 7...yikes!), especially since I work out of the home full-time and am a single mama, but I'm hoping it's just because it's the first year and we need to work out the kinks.

 

One book I've found helpful is Unplugging the Christmas Machine.  The Family Fun website (http://familyfun.go.com/parties/party-planning-ideas/10-holiday-traditions-to-start-this-year-704781/) also has cute suggestions for new traditions. 


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#8 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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DH and I focus on the family (and eating eat.gif) aspect of winter. The materialism/consumerism isn't something I want in my house, or something I want to expose my child to. We do usually exchange small gifts (candy, matchbox cars, socks and underwear) on the Solstice.

 

I have had a lot of people give me grief about not "doing" Santa and being a Grinch and stealing Christmas. But the whole ordeal makes me sick, DH is an atheist, so there is no religions element. I am also a nanny for a family (who I love) but are spendy. It makes me double sure my decision to ban Christmas and ridiculous gifts from  my house is the right one.

 

Plus, there is always grandmas house for their occasional dose of 'normal', but it stays at grandmas.

 

We also don't decorate. It's a hassle with babies, dogs and cats. Plus lights give me migraines.I also think it's kinda wasteful :) or rather it can be. I don't want to spend money on burning lights outside, but I think some decorations can be very pretty and nice. Others can be plastic and commercial.


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#9 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 09:57 PM
 
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i don't remember who but someone around here had a great idea which i took for my own family.

 

 Each person receives:

 

  • something they want
  • something they need
  • something to wear 
  • and something to read
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#10 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 08:51 AM
 
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I like this a lot onyxravnos.  I wish I would have started this right from the start.  Perfect!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxravnos View Post

i don't remember who but someone around here had a great idea which i took for my own family.

 

 Each person receives:

 

  • something they want
  • something they need
  • something to wear 
  • and something to read


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#11 of 20 Old 12-10-2010, 12:26 PM
 
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DD is 3 and we've been really enjoying the holiday season.  We went to the library and got a ton of books about Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa. And I've been telling her about the Solstice and Yule.  DH is Christian and I'm Buddhist but we like to expose her to as much as we can.  We made latkes, have been making ornaments as gifts for grandparents, participated in a local food drive and have been taking in as many of the terrific free (or low cost) holiday activities near us.  I made 3 different jams and some apple butter this year so we have tons of jars that we're getting together to give to everyone and DD is helping put it all together and then we'll go delivering gifts.  DD gets one gift from Santa and another from us (plus gifts from grandparents and extended family), so we try to keep the focus on non-material stuff. 


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#12 of 20 Old 12-10-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post

For me its about the activities too.  My son is 17mo this year so I am ramping it up a bit.

 

My favorite holiday thing?  The Dickens Faire.  Someday I hope to actually get involved...

 

We have also been making ornaments from the citrus and herbs in our yard.  We went and collected pine cones.  We've collected other stuff like pretty leaves (especially ginko leaves) decorative berries and mini pumpkins (from the community garden).  I'm all about decorating the christmas tree this year with as much natural stuff as possible to make it safe for DS to enjoy.


Updating on my own post (cheesehead that I am).

 

So we went gathering and ended up with: rosemary, yarrow, sage, white sage, dusty ******, pine cones, redwood cones, statice flowers, echinacea flower heads, yellow ginko leaves and a bunch of red berries I can't remember the name of.  I made a bunch of ornaments of of these and some ribbon and put them on the tree.  We also put up the dried citrus slices and a bunch of pomanders.  It looks really cool...a bit sparse, but so much more lovely and earthy than the overloaded-with-crap I've done all my life.

 

Gathering the materials was so awesome.  We live across the street from a university, so we clipped everything from campus.  While we were out doing that we heard beautiful singing and got to listen in on a rehearsal for a holiday concert at the mission.  The whole evening was pretty magical.

 

Here is a couple of shots of my tree so far:

 

tree1.jpgtree2.jpg

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#13 of 20 Old 12-11-2010, 08:22 AM
 
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We've always celebrated Christmas on the 25th (my Dad's Lutheran) and on Jan 7th (the rest of us are Old Calendar Orthodox). In the past, gift-giving has been on the former, while the latter has been almost exclusively religious. However... due to the weather, last year, the kids were both at their Dad's from a week before Christmas until New Year's Day. So we moved our regular celebration to the 7th. What a pleasure! We went shopping the week in between - everything was quiet, great prices, we had down time all together. We've decided to do it again this year, since both #1 and I will be working crazy hours until the 25th.

 

Since my two are older, we do keep things on the conservative side, while at the same time trying to find exactly what the others might want (or really need). All of us (well, except my bro/sil) prefer to get just one or two gifts that have real thought put into them, than a pile of "stuff".

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#14 of 20 Old 12-11-2010, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh! I love the photos. Nature provides the most beautiful ornamentation. Thanks for sharing. We live west of the Sierras and east of the Sea as well... maybe right around the bend. wink. :)


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#15 of 20 Old 12-11-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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I am subbing for some more ideas. We are finally determining our traditions and plans for this beautiful time of year, since DD is 3 and will really remember. She even remembers last year quite well.

 

I think it's ok that we don't have it 100% figured out- we will make our family traditions as our family ages.

 

What our plan is- we will be going to visit famly (9 hours away) for Christmas. We will be leaving on the 23rd and coming back the 29th. That will be Christmas. That way the focus is on the excitement and pleasure of seeing the people we love and miss and NOT on all the gifts that appear in our house one night. Prior to that, we will be doing some small homemade gifts at home, on solstice. The focus is on winter, the return of the light, nature and the magic held within.

 

She knows about Santa, that is hard to avoid (especially because I am a nanny for a family who VERY much does Santa and the rest of my family does too). I want to make this smooth and wonderful for all the people in my life...I dont want to exclude the kids I watch, or my other family and make it super exclusive because we do it SO differently, KWIM? We just talk about magic and how different people call it different things. We do faeries and gnomes and talk about magical things a lot- and Santa is falling in to that category instead of being an actual person (which is acceptable to the kids I watch as well, so it works out). We said that the name "Santa" is referring to the "spirit" (not ghost, but spirit like "holiday spirit" lol) of Saint Nicholas and what he did/who he was. It's about giving and loving and enjoying nature and the people we love. :tear: I am starting to love the holidays a lot more.


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#16 of 20 Old 12-11-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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Does anyone have any suggestions for good holiday books that cover any alternative holidays? We had no luck finding some good stuff at our library...but the other libraries around here may have some- I just need some titles. I would LOVE something that kinda covers everything- bahaha. Or just a few different ones. I am really interested in a good book or two about the solstices and equinox (what the heck is the plural of equinox?!). I am wanting children's books, to read to DD and DS. I hope the mini-hijack is ok, since it is related and will probably help you, OP, as well. ;)


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#17 of 20 Old 12-11-2010, 12:01 PM
 
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Do you guys do a tree? We started a new tradition this year. We made a whole batch of salt dough ornaments and let DS1 paint them. We're giving ornaments to family and friends (he picks what goes to whom), and keeping a bunch for our tree. If we do the same next year (even if it's just for us... not sure anyone other than the grandmas want a bunch of reeeeeeeeeeeally amateur ornaments), we'll be able to see his (and DS2's, though his seven week-old self isn't participating much this year) progression/growth/maturation from year to year.


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#18 of 20 Old 12-11-2010, 12:16 PM
 
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Quote:

 Each person receives:

 

  • something they want
  • something they need
  • something to wear 
  • and something to read

We're doing that with DD this year.

 

"Something she wants" is craft/art supplies - stickers, paint, scissors.

"Something she needs" - a pair of kiddie sunglasses, because she squints every time we go outside!

"Something to wear" - I'm making her a blue patchworky dress, and if I have time I'll make her a green spotty apron as well, for cooking and crafts

"Something to read" will be a children's Bible with lots of pictures.

 

We're not following the same "rules" with the adults, but it works well for our two-year-old!


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#19 of 20 Old 12-11-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard_babe View Post

Do you guys do a tree? We started a new tradition this year. We made a whole batch of salt dough ornaments and let DS1 paint them. We're giving ornaments to family and friends (he picks what goes to whom), and keeping a bunch for our tree. If we do the same next year (even if it's just for us... not sure anyone other than the grandmas want a bunch of reeeeeeeeeeeally amateur ornaments), we'll be able to see his (and DS2's, though his seven week-old self isn't participating much this year) progression/growth/maturation from year to year.

We didn't this year, but we did other homemade deccorations and hung them around our house. We do have some small pine boughs and such on our nature display.
 


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#20 of 20 Old 12-11-2010, 06:19 PM
 
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One tradition that I've carried over from my childhood is that each year every person (or, every kid, plus one for mom and dad) makes or chooses an ornament for the tree that in some way commemorates the year. So, when we got married we made a wedding picture ornament, this year we got handmade ornaments on our trip to Europe, etc. When my kids leave home they will have a box full of ornaments that mean something to them.

My son is getting close to 3, so this year he's participating in making gifts for the first time, really. I came up with projects he can participate in but that make things people still want to look at and/or use. smile.gif He has stamped tiles for coaster sets, painted candles, made handprint ornaments, and will be felting soap. He also used fabric markers to decorate DH's new Christmas underwear. That's not so pretty, but no one else will see it! I'm also having him participate in making decisions with me about the gifts I'm making-- which of these fabrics do you think I should use? What design would Uncle M like on his T-shirt? and so forth.

And because I know he will inevitably get a lot of gifts from grandparents, although we are giving him mostly modest and handmade stuff, he and I went to his room together for the first time and selected some toys to "give to kids who don't have toys" (we'll talk about that in more nuance as he gets older) so that he is thinking about giving to others outside our family circle as well, and has some shelf space clear.

I also always make sure we do some baking. We do a lot of food gifts for family, friends, DH's coworkers, etc. and DS helps with the preparation.
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