There are so many things about Christmas that I love. Making the Christmas cake. Twinkly lights. Christmas carols. The Kinder kids in their Nativity Play at school. I followed a small child in a three kings outfit through town this afternoon. He loved that purple cape so much. He kept swishing around in it like a superhero. The Christmas tree. Every year I throw everything we have at the tree - all the decorations made by the children since they were old enough to wield a glue stick and the glitter jar. It generally looks like a particularly cheerful explosion. This year, however, Posy put herself in charge of decorating. She chose a colour scheme of silver, red, white and blue. She took control of the Christmas decorations tub and edited. Rosy and I were only allowed to hang the ornaments that she selected. The tree does look extremely elegant this year, but I am kind of missing the yellow and red cardboard and cellophane star that The Boy made at the playgroup at the Baptist Church hall when he was two, and the Christmas seagull Posy made at Steiner playgroup when she was four (at least, I think it is a seagull).
More things I love about Christmas: home made shortbread from the neighbours. Our Christmas lunch with old friends, family, and lots of local food, including great big salads from the backyard. Having all the children come home and sleeping squeezed into corners of the house. Christmas camping with friends.
The one great big enormous thing I detest about Christmas: the buying of stuff. The part where poor people in far away places spend long hours in mines and factories making stuff that we feel obligated to buy and give to each other. Because it is Christmas. The season of good will towards all men.
As you know, I have spent a number of Christmases now reducing the gift-receiving burden. I realise that this sounds quite Grinch-ish but I think I am in quite a good place with this. My brother and I have resolved to not give gifts at any celebration because we already have enough stuff. The exception to this is when we find excellent old vintage books in op-shops that we each know the other would love, then we buy and post them at any time of the year. I mostly give my parents food and garden-based gifts. I like gardening and my mum doesn't, so that works well :) I always ask for things like goats from my parents. Because who doesn't need another goat?
Everyone else gets jam, dried herbs or other comestibles. Except the children. I buy them one big thing that they 'need'. Concert tickets, plane tickets for the older ones, magazine subscriptions. This year Rosy got her Christmas present in June - a new down jacket to see her through winter. Then there are the Christmas stockings, filled with wee things from op shops and the Oxfam fair-trade shop. And food. What is Christmas morning without chocolate? Locally made, fair trade chocolate. Wicked expensive, but that is why Christmas has always traditionally been exciting. Because you get treats that you wait for all year. If you have cheap chocolate available all the time, you don't get to be excited about it at Easter and Christmas.
I was very proud of Posy. She wanted to go out and buy lots of new tree decorations to realise her grand decorating scheme. But instead she edited what we already had. She has made small tableaus with her own (quite extensive) collection of girl clutter. We bought candy canes and two candles. And glitter. Lots of glitter. Because no matter how much you simplify, glitter still means Christmas..
I would love to hear the practical details of how you are downsizing Christmas 'stuff'.. do you still do gifts, and how do you do them? I know this is not always an easy thing to negotiate..