During my friendsgiving trip, my friend Katniss (her trail name) told me her favorite thing to do around the holidays was to re-read Little House in the Big Woods. Classic! I told her that one of these years I want to do a Little House Christmas where we exchange nothing but small gifts and handmade items. I want to retreat back to a time when receiving a peppermint stick was joy and a rag doll was pure glee. I want fellowship and community to mean more than an Amazon suggestion or the latest i-gadget. Forget Santa; the Ingalls girls just wanted Pa to be home so he could sing and play the fiddle. I want that. Because that kind of love is what Christmas is about.
Through another blog, I came across Buy Nothing Christmas. The premise is rather transparent: an experiment (connected with the Mennonite church) to focus less on consumption and consumerism and more of the spiritual connectedness and gifts we have received with the hope for some secondary benefits of saving money and sending a message that we are not pro-corporate puppets that want more stuff.
It's an intriguing thought and one I mulled over for most of the week. Despite being all about simplicity and embracing more minimalism, what did I do Black Friday? I shopped. And what did both Bigbad and I do Saturday? Shopped. To be fair, some of it was essential (okay, only one thing came close to being essential, and it wasn't the inflatable unicorn horn for cats despite how awesome that thing is, but a computer for Bigbad). But I'm allowing myself to be imperfect. I'm justifying all of the gifts I bought Punky Brewster since I won't see her for the holidays and I've been purchasing small things that remind me of her ever since she moved.
Like I said, I'm not perfect, but I think Buy Nothing Christmas suggests at that Little House Christmas and allows for the sincere gifts of presence to take over. When I mentioned Buy Nothing Christmas at work, my library friend seemed distraught at the idea of no presents. But I assured her there would be gifts to open for our Smallgood Christmas. Some may be homemade, some may be used/hand-me-downs, and some might be of the non-giftwrap variety.
|As evidenced by my Instagram feed, this isn't a giftless Christmas.|
Bigbad and I went to an advent chapel service at the college he's working, and while we sang some uncommon hymns, I realized the magic in our collective voices. Even though we attend church regularly, it's been awhile since I've had one of those spiritual moments of a united spirit worshiping where I wasn't registering the tone-deaf folks who manage to sing loudly or my own thoughts but how we all combined with one message: He is coming.
And as I allowed myself to sink into that moment of praise I realized that we were all using the hymnal (like I said, these were some uncommon songs) which made me smile. It made me happy to think we were still using print and a book. No one was pulling up the verses on a smart phone. No one was tweeting, "Getting my God on with this bilingual hymn." In a small revolt against technology, we were connecting as a community of believers.
We don't need a lot. We don't need a lot of presents to feel full on the spirit of giving. We don't need a lot under the tree (or a tree period) to enjoy the satisfaction of a holiday with family and friends. We don't need fancy new devices more than pleasant company and warm conversation. Because when I imagine my modern Little House Christmas, we're listening to my favorite holiday songs and playing a board game. Our fingers are sticky from the orange monkey bread Marmie made that morning, and our voices hoarse from laughing with abandon. The light is soft with gray clouds outside, twinkle lights inside and warmth from our house and new fleece pajamas. And our hearts are satisfied without stress from preparations or work.
I don't need to write a letter to Santa this year (or text him) because I just need to commit myself to being there, to showing up, to giving what I can without shame that it isn't a thing, to recognizing the holiday for the delightful treat it is, to praying vigilantly for those without-- without money, without security, without loved ones near by, without hope, without peace. Yep, that's my grown up Christmas list.
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