This Christmas, Part 1: What Christmas Wasn’t

In reflection on the holiday, I am so pleased to present a two part run down of what Christmas was and wasn’t for our family this year:

  • extravagant gifts. Michael and I set a limit on our budgets. I spent $30 on a lego set for him, with which I will fill his stocking tomorrow. I don’t know what he got me but I trust it is within budget.
  • long hours shopping. We created the photobooks for our parents and Nana free online. The yarn I bought for Naomi’s stocking was only $4.00. The lego were a purchase weeks ago. My brother and sister-in-law’s gifts were on CDs we had at home.
  • Increasing debt. Total spent (outside of gas) was under $100.00 for gifts for 8 people.
  • Stressful holiday parties. My mother’s side gets together several times over the month of December, while Michael’s family celebrated one large party tonite. At each function, we secured a changing spot, a comfy chair, and a sling, in which to nurse and nap our baby. And we made it clear that we intended to leave early so all three of us acquired adequate rest. No guilt trips, no fuss, no drama. Simple.
  • Polite social gatherings. Confession time: I am a wallflower. I hate get togethers with people I don’t know. Fortunately Michael’s workplace did not include a fancy party with expensive clothes or excessive alcohol. To some, this is sad, but instead they provided a lovely turkey dinner for their employees. Michael was pleased and I don’t have to pretend to understand math and machinery. Nor does our daughter have to be fondled and cooed at by strangers. Win-win!
  • Lavish meals or excess baking. We have never been good at the food aspect. We’re more the dishwashers and less the dishmakers.
  • commercialization. Because we avoided shopping malls, television, and modern consumerism, we have been able to keep our sights on what matters most for our family at this time of year: Jesus.

What about you? What wasn’t your Christmas this year?

Nostalgia

I have been on a Victorian/Edwardian extravaganza the past couple weeks. Once I rediscovered the joy that can be found in audiobooks, I set aside television and websites throughout the day in order to envelope Naomi and I in the delights of classic literature. So far, I have enjoyed wonderful romances, illuminating revelations, gruelsome horrors, and delightful adventures.

Shortly after enjoying the first three volumes of the Anne of Green Gables series, I searched and found a copy of the movie series that began in the 1980s, starring Megan Follows as the precocious little red head who delighted and thrilled dusty old Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. It brought back dear, fond memories of days gone by, when my mother and I would set aside an hour of our lives on Sunday nights to watch the spin-off television series, Road to Avonlea, in which several wonderful and vivacious characters had most ordinary adventures in their beautiful home communities. The simplicity and toil of their lives, the beautiful flowing skirts and puffed sleeves, the delight in simple things, like a new crochet pattern, an elegant poem, or a delicate heirloom, all thrilled and inspired me.

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What strikes me most, I think, is the love of others that was so profound of the stories. The children’s love and affection for one another; the kinsmanship and closeness of family; the connection to one’s home and neightbors. Its the closeness and connection that makes these stories so illuminating. We are so easily parted and isolated. We know all of our family and friends are just a quick phone call or email away. Going to our mailboxes no longer excites us because we know the only thing inside are bills, flyers or catalogs; we no longer experience the pleasure of a lovely handwritten note from a friend. We no longer visit with family, since everyone we wish to talk to can be done so over a receiver or through our computer screens. While the convenience is lovely, the distance between individual interaction grows farther and farther apart.

I myself miss these simple pleasures, when inviting someone to tea was as important as inviting them to a party, or when being loaned a book meant you were entrusted with something dear, since such texts were mich more diffocult to acquire. Lunches were carried in baskets; handcrafts were for relaxation as well as practicality; making do was not an option, but a necessity.

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What are your thoughts? Were times better way back when? Or is the convenience of modern technology a vast improvement? Do you think our advancements have put distance between us?