For the past several years I haven't felt that excited about Christmas, in fact I've felt downright Scrooge-ish. The entire thing has been a turn off, from the over-the-top buying, constant bombardment of advertising, excessive indulgence of food and drink; not to mention the extra work of decorating, the mess, and then deconstructing the setup only a few weeks later. It all just seemed so pointless, so wasteful and far away from the intended message.
I should say that I'm not a Christian, so it's not as thought I'm one of those people who goes around saying "Jesus is the reason for the season". I prefer the more pagan meaning of the holiday, the winter solstice, shortest day of the year and warding off the long nights with plenty of lights and celebration. Peace, love for fellow man and an appreciation for the stark beauty of winter. A turning inward and concentrating on in our homes and in ourselves. All that good stuff.
That having been said, I have to confess I have a different feeling towards the holiday this year. Who would have thought? We are on an extremely tight budget since J has been out of work for the past 10 months. The economy is in the toilet and people everywhere are cutting back. The retailers and economists see this is a bad thing. But for some reason it has re-instilled the excitement and anticipation for me this year. We've made it clear to family and friends that we are not buying gifts, anything that will be given will be handmade, with a few exceptions for the children in the family.
Due to the 2 new furry additions in the house, who are getting bigger (and more destructive) every day we have decided not to tempt fate and put up our traditional live tree this year. We have an Alberta spruce that is about 2 feet tall in a planter out back which will serve as our tree- even if the kittens do climb it, which I'm sure they will, they won't be able to knock it over. The worst that can happen is a few ornaments may be pulled off and used for batting practice. Needless to say, we'll save my grandmother's good decorations for another year and only put up the sturdy, kitten-proof ones.
The idea of using a live tree that hasn't been cut makes me happy. It's much more sustainable than chopping down a tree solely for the purpose of decorating for week or two then discarding it. Plus, it doesn't cost anything. After Christmas is over this little shrub can go back outside and will continue to decorate our back garden for years to come. I'm hoping this will be the start of a new tradition and we'll use it each year from now on.
I'm making all the gifts we're giving this year, whether it be to friends or family. I should have started ages ago, but a bit of pressure is the best motivator for me. Our spare bedroom is a shambles, fabric and yarn are everywhere. But it makes me happy to be creating things with my own two hands that I'll give to the people I care about.
Some might find it ironic that it's the difficult times that are bringing back the joy of the season for me - maybe I would have enjoyed Christmas more in the past few years if I had just thought about what is truly important to me: Simplicity. It was right under my nose all the time!