Weekend Roundup: Holiday Shopping Edition

Things I’m digging lately:

The $100 Christmas Challenge – Bill McKibben and members of his church began a challenge back in the 1990s to not spend more than $100 on Christmas Gifts each year. Sticklers among you may want to account for inflation (ha!), but this is a fantastic challenge that I’m thinking of trying next year.  We’ve spent about two and half times that this year, which I realize is less than many people, so I’m thinking that we can forget inflation and try to only spend $100 next year.  The key for us is hand-making many of our presents, which means that while the dollar figure may be low, the time (and love) factor is quite high.

40 Reasons to Avoid Shopping on Black Friday – Black Friday has come and gone, but the reasons to avoid the malls persist through the entire holiday season.

Online Deals For Holiday Shopping: Buyer Beware – And if you need one more reason to think carefully about so-called sales and great deals, this article is an eye-opener.

Contrary to the impression these articles may give, I am not anti-shopping or anti-gift.  Instead of chasing deals, I’d rather think about what a loved one wants or needs and shop or make accordingly.  I’ve also begun to look much more critically at sales and instead purchase items based on quality rather than based on the supposed savings that I’m getting.  For folks like my husband, this is obvious, but for someone like me who used to be seduced by the savings off of the MSRP for just about everything that I bought, this is a liberating awakening.

I Choose Time

I Choose Time

 

The holidays are upon us.  It is inescapable.  And quite frankly, I have no interest in escaping.  I love this time of year.  I love the brisk weather, the music that distinguishes this season from the next, time with family and friends, and the comfort of familiar traditions.

I have been making a list of all the ways in which I would like to celebrate this holiday season with my family.  Make a gingerbread house, pick out a Christmas Tree, attend Christmas Eve service, make cookies for loved ones, decorate my parents’ home, attend a Christmas Tree Lighting or two, find a neighborhood with great lights, and on, and on.  Do you know what all of these things have in common?  Time.  Time together as a family.

Time is my most precious commodity.  I have a limited supply and unlike money, I cannot make more by working harder or working longer hours.

If you read any of the same things I read, you cannot go a day without reading an article about how to simplify the holidays, make them more meaningful and less about stuff, all while making swoon-worthy decorations and home-made feasts.  “Skip the mall.”  “Buy and gift experiences, not things.”  “Cut back on your gift-giving.”  “Change your own expectations.”  These are all laudable, but they also carry with them guilt.  Now it is not enough to decorate and bake and attend holiday parties, but the season should also be infused with the right family activities, the right (i.e., more thoughtful) gifts, and be utterly pin-worthy.

I am ditching the lists of what I should do because it is what I have always done.  I am tossing the lists of what I should do because it is how to make this season more “meaningful and beautiful” (according to whom?).  Instead, I am choosing to do the things that bring joy to me and to my family and friends.  And whenever I have the choice, I choose time.  Time to savor the syrupy sounds from the radio, time to snuggle with my boy in his reindeer jammies, and time to share tea and stories with my loved ones.  The end result?  When I choose time, I also happen to be choosing those laudable goals of a meaningful, simple, and community-filled holiday.  One simple choice will bring you to the same result.  Join with me to shed the endless to-do lists and the holiday guilt, and just choose time.

Weekend Roundup: Ithaka, Vandalism, and the Holidays

Things I’m digging lately:

  • The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes – A post from Zenhabits that we should all revisit from time to time.
  • Why the Creepytings National Park Vandalism is a Big Deal – If you have not heard about this “artist’s” vandalism, it is worth reading about.  She has vandalized precious, beautiful locations that belong to us all.  Some may say that this is not that big of a deal (I am not one of those), but seeing where she painted turned my stomach.  I only hope that this can be used as a lesson to many about the importance of respecting our wild, beautiful, and public lands.  Unfortunately, we saw our share of vandalism in parks, most notably in Joshua Tree and in Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, but nothing quite so widespread or brazen as this.
  • Holiday Calendar from Center for a New American Dream – Looking for some alternatives to a holiday season filled with shopping and last-minute errands?  The Center for a New American Dream has put together a great holiday calendar with ideas to celebrate the season away from the malls and the online retailers.
  • And finally, I leave you with the last two stanzas of Ithaka by the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy.  Click here to check out the entire poem that speaks so loudly to me right now.  Does this resonate with you?  What is yourIthaka right now?
    .   .   .

    “Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you would not have set out. She has nothing left to give you now.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”

 

Have a beautiful weekend, friends…