I prefer to hold off on most Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving. I like my holidays one at at time and it’s too easy to let the glitter of Christmas overwhelm the simplicity of Thanksgiving. For that reason, I don’t decorate before Thanksgiving. Well, I mean, I don’t put up Christmas decorations. I do have some simple autumn and Thanksgiving decorations which I enjoy this time of year. I also try to refrain from listening to Christmas music this early, however I must admit that I did play a few songs from Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas album this morning. In general, though, I hold off until December. I do like to keep our tree up until Chris’ birthday, January 10th. This has been his request since he was a little boy and we continue to honor that. If I decorated any earlier, I’d have to dust all that stuff after having it up that long!
Now, having said all that, there are some aspects of Christmas that do require my attention a bit earlier. For instance, I like to have my annual Christmas letter done by Thanksgiving. A large part of my extended family gathers together for Thanksgiving and it’s nice to be able to hand out our Christmas letter in person (saves on envelopes and postage!). It’s also nice to have that project out of the way before things get busier.
I also begin thinking about and making some plans for Christmas gifts. Buying a little at a time over the course of the year sounds like a good idea but in reality, it wouldn’t work that well in our situation. I could very well buy something for David or one of the kids only to discover that they bought it for themselves at some point. I prefer to wait and then we all have an understanding of sorts that we refrain from buying stuff for ourselves that month or so before Christmas. This year a major part of our family Christmas will be an experience rather than *stuff*. David bought tickets to the Flaming Lips New Year’s Eve concert in Oklahoma City for both kids, son-in-law and ourselves. He also made hotel reservations for all of us. None of us need anything so a fun family time will be much more special.
Speaking of which, take a look at this promotional video from The Advent Conspiracy:
And this is the 2009 promo:
Makes you think, doesn’t it? And for my non-Christian readers who enjoy the secular aspects of the holiday season, the emphasis on relationships and doing for others is still relevant. One thing our family has participated in for years is the Alternative Gift Market that our church hosts each year. You may choose from a wide variety of projects around the world, purchase shares and then give a card explaining the purchase to someone on your gift list. Many years ago, before we began homeschooling, we would do this for the kids’ school teachers. We received very positive reactions (most teachers have all the apple-themed knickknacks they will ever need). This year’s local market is Friday and I picked up a catalog at church Sunday which I’ve been looking over. Last year Chris and Lisa decided to purchase each other something this way and plan to do the same this year. I’m so proud of them for thinking of this on their own.
If you are tired of the usual gift-giving practices and looking for something more meaningful, I urge you to check out the links below. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
(Our local Alternative Gift Market also includes gift items from Ten Thousand Villages, a Fair Trade organization that provides a market for beautiful hand-made items from around the world.)