Updated: Nov 9, 2019
If you are anything like me, you are always seeking out ways to step more lightly on this beautiful Earth of ours.
The holiday season has always filled me with dread and that has increased dramatically since having children.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love the holidays! I love the music, the food, the fun times and the time with friends and family.
What I don't love is the mindless consumerism, the "need" to buy gifts for everyone just because, the excessive packaging, the stress of stretching a budget already stretched.
When I had my first child, I decided that we were going to do things a little differently. A little smaller, a little more mindfully and the result has been a lot more peaceful and joyful.
Here are some of our family traditions that we incorporate into our holiday celebrating to keep things simple and affordable. In the years to come, I hope that my children will remember the time spent together as the most important gift of all.
1. We go carolling. This event has changed and morphed over the years, but it all started with me and our family friend, Ed, when we decided to carol around downtown Sydney. It has since grown into a yearly party at our favorite book store (Ed's Books and More) with music, food and so much love and laughter.
2. We decorate early! I know, I know. Some of you out there want to hate me for that one. For me, it gives us extra time with extra light and merriment, it helps to combat my yearly struggle with SAD and it's just so damn cute!
3. We celebrate Yule (Winter Solstice). As a non Christian family, but one with spiritual leanings, it has always been important to me that we honour the Earth and stay connected with her natural cycles. We mark this one by having our last fire of the year (outside) and burning the Yule log from the previous year. We spend time feasting, with lots of candles and we exchange small gifts and discuss the ways in which we can be a light in this world. We usually watch Christmas movies and drink hot drinks, with lots of tasty snacks as well. Last year we had a large potluck with friends and many children, created a spiral in the snow with candles and set our intentions for the coming seasons.
4. For actual Christmas, we keep it really small and minimal. (Okay, I may have splurged slightly this year and got the eldest a new bow and collection of arrows but practical, with years of use and a great hobby!)
The children get (this is flexible but my general plan):
Filled with things like toothpaste, toothbrush, fruit, healthy and delicious treats, locally crafted toys, socks, lip balm, etc. I try to keep it limited to needed things but make it fun!
This year, I am upping my focus on locally made products and it is so much fun to slowly gather wonderfully crafted gifts and support local makers!
A new book
We love reading! I love nothing more than the snuggly and peaceful time that books bring to us. Books are always something that are well appreciated and loved in our family. Not only are they fun to read, studies have shown the importance of reading aloud with your children. It stimulates their imagination, helps them to understand the world, introduces words and listening skills and preps them to understand written words! Not to mention all the positive brain activity that comes from loving and affectionate activities with your kids favorite person: you!
Let's be real. They don't need new pajamas. I need adorable photos of my kids matching and looking adorbs. For extra fun, I get myself a matching pair too. The oldest thinks this is hilarious and his belly laughs add to the gift! (This year we are going for family onesies and I might be over the top excited already!)
I usually make a stuffed animal of my child's choosing or slippers or a blanket. Something that is warm, cozy and will bring them months or years of positive feelings. This year they have decided that they both want new slippers that are purple! I make a Padraig style slipper and will be crafting them each a pair, and maybe me too!)
This one is one of my favorites! It can be so many things!
A movie date
A season pass to Two Rivers Wildlife Park
An arcade date
Fired Pottery Cafe date
A Coupon for a day off from school to go do something fun!
A Road Trip to your favorite sledding hill, with a packed lunch and hot chocolate!
A spa day (Either at your favorite spa! Revive is our top choice! or create one at home with a foot soak, facial, massage, etc)
Go see a play at the Highland Arts Theatre!
Sometimes I struggle with wanting to keep up with the hypothetical Jones' but then I always come back to the awareness that my kids are happy with less.
They are happy with more presence, less presents.
They will grow up knowing that they don't need gifts to feel loved.
They need attention.
They need affection.
They need mindfulness and time to breathe.
A few more eco tips for your holiday season!
Ditch the paper! Wrap your gifts in fabric! I like to buy scarves from the thrift store and use those! They get a cute scarf and you save some trees! Win win!
Buy second hand as much as possible.
Shop local! We are so blessed with so many amazing shops and crafters! Check out the
Cape Breton Farmer's Market (http://www.capebretonfarmersmarket.com)
Doktor Luke's (http://www.doktorlukes.com)
The Mermaid (http://www.facebook.com/mermaidfoodcb/ )
Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design (https://capebretoncraft.com)
Elizabeth Burtt Pottery (http://www.facebook.com/lizziespots
Feywood Grove (https://www.feywoodgrove.com)
Sunlit Valley (http://www.facebook.com/sunlitvalley)
SAJE Children's Boutique (http://www.facebook.com/SAJEBoutique/
Highland Bow and Arrow (highlandbow.ca)
Enjoy the Holidays!! Eat well, love lots and be mindful!