Posts tagged: Christmas-Holidays Unplugged

Happy Holidays!!
(“…brought to you by ___”)

By , December 3, 2008 8:03 pm

This is a post I should have written about two months ago. Two months ago when all the cheap plastic decorations first made their way into the supermarkets, Walmarts, Kmarts and Any-Other-Marts in the United States. Here in the U.S., shoppers have been regaled with muzak versions of The Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night since well before Halloween (October 31st) this year.

Now that we have finally gotten that pesky little Thanksgiving holiday over with, the commercial Christmas onslaught can begin in earnest.

On my Thanksgiving cross-country trip, I realized what I have been missing without TV for all these years. Ads. Hundreds and thousands of ads promising me the best Christmas ever (what is that anyway?) if only I purchase a new Best Buy flat screen TV, or Macy’s cashmere sweater, or Zales diamond necklace, or _______ (insert advertised product in blank) for my loved one.

I had forgotten what it was like. Although I had a fabulous trip, I was quite relieved when I was finally home and able to retreat to the refuge of my quiet house to end the commercial attack on my psyche.

And here comes the part that I should have written about three months ago when I first detected the initial stirrings of faux holiday jolliness in the stores:

Since many readers are probably new to Unplug Your Kids, I should let you all know that last year while suffering a holiday existential crisis, I wrote a series of posts entitled Christmas/Holidays Unplugged in which I explored alternatives to the traditional American commercial holiday experience.

I know it is a bit late now that December is already here, but if anyone is in need of a bit of inspiration, or encouragement, or alternative holiday ideas, then hopefully you might enjoy some of these posts.

I have listed them all here and linked to them so you can click on what sounds interesting to you. I hope that someone will find this helpful! 

(Also:  If you find a topic interesting, be sure to read the comments too since readers often left their own wonderful insights and suggestions.)

1) Merry Christmas

2) Unplug The Christmas Machine (a book review – very inspirational book if you are disillusioned with Christmas/Hanukkah)

3) Making a List and Checking it Twice (what does your holiday really mean to you?)

4) Holiday Prep – Part 1 (Introduction)

5) Holiday Prep – Part 2: Help! Holiday Prep Makes Me Miserable!!

6) Holiday Prep – Part 3: Help! I Love Doing it All, But How Can I Find Time to Do it?

7) Celebrating Advent

8) Commercialism in Your Mailbox?

9) A Holiday Linky Assortment

10) The Great Christmas Tree Dilemma (Real? Fake? Living? What else?)

11) Buy Handmade

12) Donate this Year Instead of Gifts

13) Santa Lists and Sponge Bob (dealing with kids’ gift requests)

14) Combating Commercials (fighting the effects of toy ads)

15) Help!  Too Much Stuff!! (ideas for cutting down on the amount of “stuff”)

16) A Post as Small as a Stocking Stuffer (“nice toy” stocking stuffer ideas)

(Thanks to Everystockphoto and phtographer”tandemracer” for this photo. View license terms here.)

Postcard From Puerto Vallarta

By , January 2, 2008 11:58 am

(Photo: Sunset from our balcony)

Christmas in Mexico was like a drink of cool water on a sweltering day. Especially in this year of extensive Christmas ruminations and soul searching.

It was almost like it wasn’t Christmas at all, which was fine with me for this year. The hotel had minimal decorations, a nativity, a few discreet Christmas trees and tasteful bows here and there…and NO Christmas music!!

The day after Christmas we went to a Mega hypermarket (the Mexican equivalent of a super Walmart) and there was not one single Christmas decoration to be seen. Astonishing! Did the elves whisk it all away at midnight or (more likely), were all the American-style plastic Santas, talking trees and inflatable snowmen simply never there to begin with? I suspect that Mexico does not engage in the same commercial Christmas orgy that takes place annually here in the US.

What a relief! This Christmas stillness allowed me to gather my thoughts and I feel I might actually be able to face the Holidays at home next year. I thought about all my Christmas/Holidays Unplugged posts and all your helpful and inspiring comments (thank you all so much for helping me!). I can do this. I can make the holidays what I feel they should be. After all, I can’t keep running away, can I? I do want my children to have happy Christmas traditions and memories other than airports and hotels.

As for the non-contemplative side of the trip. It was nice, but for someone like me who is always cold, I thought the weather was a little cool. Even the natives said it was cold. I can’t complain too much since it was high 60’s to low 70’s (Celsius: about 20 to 23 degrees) while here at home it got down to 2 degrees (Celsius: -17) and snowed.

The kids swam like crazy little fish despite the cool temperatures, and I got some reading done. I didn’t blog at all, although I used the lobby computer once for five minutes to moderate comments.

The trip down was fairly smooth, but the trip home was an adventure. First we lost the keys to the rental car. After searching the hotel room, the car, and the luggage for an hour, we eventually found them in an odd little drawer in the room (thank you youngest daughter!).

Upon arriving at the airport, it took half an hour to return the car and the line to check in was REALLY long. It was also slow-moving because they hand-searched every single checked bag since they don’t have x-ray for that there. We also discovered that the airline had moved the flight time earlier by two hours and had not notified us (thank you US Airways!). The security line was down the hall and around the corner, and that was BEFORE you even got to the giant maze of ropes. Fortunately we had factored in time for lunch in this whole process, bye-bye lunch.

I have done a lot of traveling in my life and I am a firm believer in the “everything happens for a reason” school of travel thought. Fortunately my husband is the same way. We thought perhaps we were simply meant to spend another night there. There are certainly worse places in the world to be stuck! Despite entering our zen-like travel state and planning on another night in Mexico, we somehow miraculously made it to the plane. We were the last ones on, but we were on. Upon arrival in Phoenix (only 42 degrees, 6 Celsius!) we were starving, tired and crabby so we wisely decided to spend the night.

The next morning, feeling much better, and after breakfast and a little fun shopping at the Ikea in Tempe, we headed home.

I didn’t take many photos, but here are a few:

A little restaurant:

An impressive field of Tequila Agave (Agave tequilana) used, of course, for making tequila:

My youngest daughter going for a brief Christmas Day walk, or rather “a drag” down the beach with her Dad before I had to carry her back to the hotel (for some reason she didn’t like the sand!):

Art shot – Town square, old mining town of San Sebastian:

Rock slide in front of us that shut down the road (for only half an hour though) on the way home from San Sebastian. Note the boulders in road and the dust cloud!:

Feliz Navidad!

By , December 20, 2007 8:54 pm

Well, I have spent a lot of time trying to publicly gather my thoughts about the Holidays over the past two months with my Christmas/Holidays Unplugged posts. I hope they have been helpful to you. I know they have been helpful to me.

I think I have made some progress this year (fewer gifts, very few cards, thoughts about what the holidays mean to us, etc.). But this year, we are doing something different. We are going away on vacation over Christmas, to a warm beach in Mexico.

I am looking forward to it, although the last time we made this trip the baby got a cold and was miserable, she was only interested in eating sand on the beach, and the airline lost the suitcase with all the baby stuff in it. This time though, it will be better.

I am hoping that “a year off” will give me time to put all my new thoughts and ideas in perspective so that I can be better prepared to have the kind of Christmas I want next year.

It will also be good for my blog addiction since I will be without a computer. I might be able to check in once in a while to moderate any comments, but I probably will not post.

Happy Holidays to all! And I’ll see you in 10 days or so!

(Read all the Christmas/Holidays Unplugged posts here)

A Post as Small as a Stocking Stuffer! (Christmas/Holidays Unplugged)

By , December 15, 2007 9:52 pm

I had a fun post planned on ideas for Christmas stocking presents, but alas, it shall have to wait. I have just realized that I have spent so much time advising others on how to prepare for the Holidays, that I am not prepared myself!

Although I feel like simply collapsing into bed with a cup of tea and a warm dog or two, I shall have to do a bit of online shopping .

I’ll try and get that post out before it is entirely too late to be useful. But for now, if you want some ideas for nice, “tried and true” (by me) gifts that will fit in a stocking, I refer you to my stocking stuffer category.

Hope it’s useful!

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(Read all the Christmas/Holidays Unplugged posts here.)

Help! Too Much Stuff !! (Christmas/Holidays Unplugged)

By , December 10, 2007 11:41 pm

So how do you reduce the sheer VOLUME of gifts? Giving fewer gifts to the children is a great start (Dawn had a good idea: Jesus only got three presents on his birthday, so kids shouldn’t get more than that either).

Whatever your reasons or rationalizations, the sooner you start with fewer presents the better. If kids have been having 20 Christmas presents a piece their whole lives and you suddenly cut them back to 3 at age 12 or 13, you had better have some REALLY GOOD REASONS. So remember: Get your gift quantity issues settled sooner rather than later.

How to cut down on other family gift excesses and commercialism? Here are some ideas, a few thanks to Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season , but most thanks to me!

** Agree to no adult gifts.

** Give (or request) a family gift instead of individual gifts (for example: a game, puzzle or craft that everyone can do together)

** Agree to an all handmade Christmas. Either make simple gifts for each other, or buy only homemade gifts from local craft fairs or Etsy.

** Decide to do only funny gifts. For example I know a family who spends all year checking garage sales and thrifting for those little shell covered animals to give each other as a joke. Each has to cost less than $2. They all have a good laugh (priceless, right?) and display them proudly on a shelf in their home. It is quite funny!

** Do a lottery: Each family member picks a name and finds a gift for that person only. My best friend growing up was from a very large family and that is what they did. This is a very good solution for big families.

** Give coupons as gifts. I know that the most precious gift that anyone could give me would be a few hours of babysitting. Think about your talents. Do you knit? How about a coupon for a sweater. Do you cook? A dinner for two, or four or six. You get the idea.

** Christmas ornaments? How about having adults exchange only ornaments, either handmade or store bought. That way, each year when the ornaments come out, you will think of the family member who gave it to you.

** Books only. Each person makes a gift of the book that they enjoyed the most during the past year.

** A recipe exchange? Everyone gives their favorite recipe of the year.

** Christmas Stockings only? Honestly my favorite part of Christmas giving is the stocking. I love the challenge of finding presents that are small enough to fit in a stocking, but that the person would genuinely like to receive! A bunch of small, little things can be really fun.

** Give all living gifts: Plants only (indoor or outdoor depending on what your climate is like in December). Every time someone sees the plant that you gave, they will think of you.

** Do all charity gifts. Make gifts to a charity in a family member’s name. Usually you get a certificate or something tangible to present to that person.

** A family “Wildlife Christmas” – Ideas: gifts of donations to wildlife charities, bird feeders, bird houses or bird baths (especially heated ones if you live in a cold climate), live butterfly kits (if you live in a climate mild enough to release them in winter, otherwise wait until spring to order the larvae), ladybug or bee houses, bat houses, or butterfly houses.

** “Pick a Charity Christmas” where everyone agrees on a particular charity or cause that they would like to support. Everyone tries to be creative in giving gifts related to that cause: shopping from a specific charity’s website, buying crafts from a particular country to benefit local craftspeople if that is related to the cause, donating in someone’s name, agreeing to donate a certain amount of time for that cause (in the form of a coupon?), etc. etc. etc.

** How about for an elderly neighbor: A coupon good for a fall leaf raking, a lawn mowing or a driveway shovel, or a batch of cookies made by the kids?

Any other ideas??

(Read all the Christmas/Holidays Unplugged posts here.)

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