Monday, October 30, 2006


Tomorrow is Halloween. Even if I did not have a calendar I would realize the time of year. Of course, there are the beautiful leaves on the ground, the smell of the autumnal air, the crisp air which necessitates the need for a sweater. I truly love this time of year. Then again, I can't think of a time of year I really dislike.

I would also know that it was halloween simply by the plethora of pumpkins, halloween decorations, and commercials. It sometimes astonishes me that holidays have become so commercialized. I remember being a child and dressing up in costumes which were either sewn by my mother or created with clothing or items which we had in the house. Decorations were never the plastic mass produced items. We had "cobwebs" created out of lengthened cotton balls, etc. Now stores are filled with plastic doo-dads which we "need" for the holiday. Halloween is not the only holiday -- every holiday is focused on stuff. Thanksgiving is more than turkey and family, Christmas decorations and ads start in October or September, Valentines day is a huge purchasing event. Every holiday has a focus on consumerism rather than the focus on sharing an experience with friends and family.

Can we take back our holidays? Take them back from corporations by not particiapting in the consumer culture. This holiday season I plan on:

  1. 100-mile thanksgiving

  2. a buy nothing christmas
I want to focus on the experiences rather than the purchasing. We will see how it goes!
Once I find out how many I am cooking for I will post menus. I will also post our gift ideas as we make decisions.

Anyone else want to take our holidays back from coporations/consumerism?


Evan said...

We tried a "buy nothing" Christmas last year. It was difficult to get others on board especially the grandparents. They always want to buy something for our daughter. Last year, they were better and bought less than they would have if we hadn't insisted on the buy nothing idea. A couple of years ago, I tried to convince my family to do the "recycled" Christmas, but that didn't go over very well. Now we have all agreed that we will only get gifts for the children under the age of 18. My husband and I only buy savings bonds for them for birthdays and for Christmas, but unfortunately the kids get so much stuff from everyone else in their lives that it is horrifying. For our child, we have a rule "no plastic". We will return anything plastic with no apologies.

Anonymous said...

We love alternative gifts. They aren't appropriate for everyone but they are a wonderful option. We love Heifer, and Alternative Gifts Intl.

Carolyn said...

Yesterday, I received a Christmas card! Things are just out of hand.

Emme said...

We are thinking about giving some experience gifts to the children. For example, our eldest son (age 6) could really benefit from taek-won-do lessons. I think it would help him feel in control of himself (he had some very traumatic experiences a few years ago). Madison has already started knitting hats for her siblings.

I think we will do some charity work - however, I am not certain what we will do. One year Madison (age 8 at the time) requested a donation to Heifer in her name (in lieu of a b-day present).

I don't expect the extended family to do the same, however, I want our family to understand that the holidays are more than getting a lot of expensive toys.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

In lieu of gifts, we are asking family and friends to donate money toward the construction of a Habitat for Humanity house in Africa. In some African countries, it costs less than $2000 US to build a Habitat house!

Our parents are giving us gift certificates for our first wedding anniversary trip. I think experiential gifts are just awesome, and I'm sure your kids will really enjoy it if y'all decide to do that.

For most of my friends, I will be making soup and freezing it for gifts. I figure homemade, organic food is almost always welcome. They can thank me after a busy day when they get home and just have to reheat some fabulous soup. :)

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Emme, one thing I'm struggling with is what to use to make a local Thanksgiving dish. . . . I mean, we buy veggies locally and stuff like that, but then all the spices and other small ingredients are often not local. Are you using only local spices?

Evan said...

Emme: My husband received karate lessons as a Christmas gift when he was a boy. He earned his first black belt by age 12. He has been teaching/learning ever since. He recently celebrated his 25th first black belt anniversary. He would be the first to encourage you to gift your son with lessons. It teaches children poise, self control, confidence, compassion and a lifetime of health and fitness. When our daughter is three, she will begin her lessons.

Emme said...

Sally, I will be using mostly spices that I have grown: oregano, thyme, sage. I will use salt. I think I will use the spices I already have available (cinnamon, ginger) but will not purchase any new specifically for Thanksgiving. I haven't decided, but if I can find an alternative mean, then I will do so. Pumpkin pie without cinnamon? If I can find something else....

I do think I will use maple syrup as a sweetner (and honey). Both of which I find locally.

I don't know if the wheat berries that I have are local. I do have them, and it would make more sense to bake bread from that than to purchase bread from a local bakery.

Kristy said...

I love the idea of taking back the holidays. It is all about little steps and understanding where I want to be. We just repainted our 1600 square foot apartment and I couldn't believe the amount of stuff we have. My DH is not quite ready to give it all up, but we have asked for only one small gift and then a savings bond or money in a 529 plan for college.

Love your blog btw!

Sara said...

I completely agree that the holidays are out of hand. We tried to get our family to do a "buy nothing Christmas" last year, but they are so entrenched in it, that it was hard to let go. So, this year, instead of telling them not to get anything...I gave them a Nova Naturals catalog and asked them to only buy Bella ONE thing. A big improvement over many little things (they are getting her the wooden kitchen). I also admire you for doing the 100 mile will be great to see how it goes!