Ah yes. It is the Holidays. With a capital H. Full of traditions and family rituals. Parties, gifts, food.
And a whole lotta work.
I am not being a Grinch here, far from it. And I don’t want to write another one of those ” how to reduce your stress at the holidays” pieces. We all see plenty of those. But the holidays are time consuming and exhausting. As much as I want to enjoy the holidays, I also feel anxious about it.
Bottom line is, I just want to have a good time. And the best way to do that is to take the Less is More Method.
Less gifts. Less food. Less fuss. Less activity. Less anxiety.
I’m going for the Quality over Quantity Holiday this year. My husband and I told our children that we don’t want any gifts this year except for them to contribute to our purchase of a new gas stove and cook-top. We currently have an electric one, and if you are a serious cook, you all know how much electric cook-tops stink. So instead of buying gifts for each other, and trying to surmise what each other wants, we decided to buy the new stove. Period. And our kids can give us money towards the purchase. Done and done.
Our children want gift cards for Christmas. And I used to fight that, thinking that it wasn’t personal enough, that it was a cop-out, that I should know them well enough to find the perfect gift, so if I bought a gift card, I was a lazy failure. Not this year. Gift cards purchased. Done.
I’m still going to buy small gifts for the Christmas stockings, but I am going to be buying from socially responsible companies like Bombas. This company started out with a mission to provide socks for homeless people. They have done their research by interviewing the homeless for what they need in a sock, and redesigned socks to make them comfortable and long lasting.With every purchase you make, they donate a pair to help the homeless.
They started with a mission to help people in need, and have already donated over one million pairs of socks. I can get behind that.
I will also be buying from Penzeys Spices. A friend turned me onto this company, and their quality is the best, bar none. But another reason I support them is how their CEO, William Penzey, has spoken out against the rash of racism, misogyny and fear mongering that is our current political climate. Sure he has taken some hits on social media, but go read his letter to CEOs of other companies on their Facebook page here. This is a company worth purchasing from.
And I will be supporting local stores. I have some favorites, but I want to get into some local stores that I haven’t been to before. Plus, when you actually shop locally, you meet people who live locally. Instead of hanging out on my laptop with my credit card, I will get out and interact. Try it. Even if you don’t make a purchase you will be in the world.
Don’t need or don’t want any more “stuff”? I know I don’t. Do what we did. We told our children that from now on, for holidays and birthdays, we only want:
- Good things to eat
- Good things to drink
- Time with them
I have favorite wines that are always an acceptable gift! Plus, Turkish dried apricots, caramel and dark chocolate with sea salt candies, balsamic vinegar, coffee, and more. Consumables are the perfect gift for me, as I don’t want any more:
- coffee cups
- tee shirts
- refrigerator magnets
- gee gaws and doo dahs
Time together is the one gift that we all too often fail to give or receive. Take time to go do something with your friends and family. Go to a museum or to a play, or go hiking. Dine out at a really special restaurant. That combines the time together gift with the great food and drink gift! Be unscheduled and just hang out. A day playing board games, or reading a book, sitting around in our pajamas is not time wasted, it is time well spent. So put aside some time to do something. Or nothing. Together.
We are working on our holiday meal menu, and we both do love to plan and prepare the feast. Our Christmas Day breakfast tradition is lox and bagels. Not your typical Christmas breakfast, but we love it. (This was the subject of my very first blog post, which you can read here.) We will most likely do some sort of roast beef, with the usual vegetables and pies for dessert. In the past, we have done the traditional Italian meal of the Seven Fishes Dinner on Christmas Eve. This is a perfect meal for a large group. We have done a shrimp cocktail appetizer, clams in white wine over pasta, calamari, or a bouillabaisse. Our favorite story was when my husband tried a recipe from the fifties that was a crab dip with Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise. If it sounds awful…. it was. What a waste of crab. It was INEDIBLE. We both tried it, gagged and just started laughing. It is still one of our favorites tale of recipes gone horribly wrong.
And I will make a date with a friend who came over last year to make Christmas cookies. We had a blast. It was a great time to catch up, and we had so much fun. There was royal icing everywhere, but who cares?
I am sure there will still be some stressful or anxious moments over the holidays, but I am planning on letting go of anything that causes stress or discord.
My new ritual is…less ritual.
So, to my readers, I wish you a holiday season of less AND more. This has been a tumultuous year, with more upheavals and discord on the horizon.
I wish you less stress and more peace.
I wish you less fear and more community.
I wish you less helplessness, and more power.
And I wish everyone hope. Give it. Share it. Receive it.
Happy Holidays to All.