Saturday, October 18, 2008

Great Little Holiday Book

I spent part of the afternoon today reading Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben. I know it's early to be thinking about Christmas, but I'm a planner. I've been thinking about how I want this holiday season to look for our family. Also, I'm really trying to incorporate some homemade gifts this year which take time. I saw a post on another blog (I wish I could remember where) talking about a homemade Christmas and that blogger mentioned this book. It was a really quick read but very inspiring. He wrote the book in 1998 so it's ten years old but I think especially applicable right now with all the financial worries everyone is having. Honestly, I'm not sure how I've missed it before, but glad I came across it now. Anyway, his tagline is "The Case for a More Joyful Christmas."

First he kind of goes through an abbreviated history of Christmas from wassailing in the medievel times to the uber-consumerism of today. Talking of today he says:
"Here's the bottom line: We have so much stuff that a pile of presents is no longer exciting, no longer novel...When you have a lot of stuff, getting more is less exciting than when you have very little. That seems obvious--it's habituation."
And a little later he says:
"If there's one way in which the world has changed more than any other since 1840, one thing that's truly different in our lives, it's that we've become such devout consumers. That consumption carries with it certain blessings (our lives are long and easy by any historical standard) and certain costs (first and foremost the damage it causes to the rest of creation). But the greatest cost may be the way it's changed us, the way it has managed to confuse us about what we really want from the world. We weren't built just for this life we find ourselves leading--we were built for silence and solitude, built for connection with each other and the natural world, built for so much more than we now settle for. Chirstmas is the moment to sense that, the moment to reach for the real joys."
His proposition - give yourself a hundred dollar limit. He says that there's nothing magical about a hundred dollars. He said he first thought of it because it sounded good with "holiday." lol But the point is to limit the amount you spend. Take more time thinking of other ways to celebrate the holiday to bring you and your family peace, time with others, connection with your spirituality. There is a lot of emphasis on homemade gifts that have real meaning instead of the piles of presents that really don't mean that much. Really inspiring.

I already know that we will be spending more than a hundred dollars this year. But I thought of some ways that I want to incorporate some of the ideas from the book. I thought I would make sure everyone (in my immediate family) receives at least one homemade gift. We will drastically limit the other gifts, something we had already been talking about. I want to think of ways to honor our neighbors with homemade gifts, nothing fancy, probably just cookies. But it's a way to show them that we appreciate them. I'd like to make sure we shift our focus to celebrating our Christian faith. Last year we started a Jesse Tree but didn't keep it up. I'd really like to do that this year. I also want to find a meaningful way for us as a family to give to someone facing harder times than we are right now.

I was even inspired to jot down a little pledge for myself in my notebook. Here is what I wrote,
"I will buy nothing unwanted or that I know will be unappreciated. No more junk or hastily chosen items just to fill the quota of the right amount spent or number of gifts for someone. Handmade and consumable is better than store bought and plastic (although I'm sure there will be some of the latter.) I will be intentional about creating meaningful traditions for our family."
I know, I know, I need to get through Halloween first. But since I'm already making lists, this was a perfect time for me to read this book.


Dad said...

I say we clean out the old and start all over again! [Except my stuff of course :-)]

The Wades said...

Good for you! I should take your advice. It's such a shame I'm so NOT a planner!