A Different Christmas – by Adam Glennon

It’s October. The leaves are beginning to change colour and fall from the trees and so, naturally, our thoughts begin to turn to the festive period. I don’t count down the sleeps and I certainly don’t save all year to bestow an extreme abundance of gifts onto my loved ones. As a family, we have decided to celebrate Christmas differently this year.

1. Throwing consumerism out with the bathwater

We’re going minimalist. The idea of changing how Christmas is conducted in our home has been developing for a few years now. It all started when we stopped buying gifts for family members and began making homemade chutneys, piccalillis, jams, and stollen. As it turns out, these thoughtful consumables were a massive hit.  We labelled the jars and displayed them in small cardboard trays with coloured, shredded paper. Creating that homemade, rustic, “eat me with cheese,” look.

The Wife and I decided to put a budget on presents for each other and for our toddler, we asked that family members buy him only one gift loosely based around a theme. Last year was wooden gifts and this time will probably be vehicles. The benefits of reducing consumption and wastefulness has become the norm’ hasn’t it? The days of stuffing all the household “rubbish” into black bags and plonking it outside the house for the binman has gone and I see our choices as a reflection on this change in attitude.

2. Balancing Magic with Myth

What I say next might not sound particularly festive: Have you ever considered that the story of Father Christmas teaches children that it’s okay to lie? Whoa, it feels good to get that off my chest. I’m treading carefully here to protect younger readers so I will not add much more. But we all know what I’m talking about. The “big reveal,” is usually brought about by someone with far less compassion than us parents. Further along, we often see a powerful shift in the development of an infant to pre-teen mentality; “They lie and so can I” (subconsciously of course). So what are we doing as parents to address my concerns? Well, we’ve decided to simplify things: Christmas is a story … one that’s been passed down, but not one shared by all cultures.

3. Going Scandi

We’ve decided to incorporate our love of learning and anthropology, we’ll be exploring how different peoples “do” Christmas, starting with Icelandic traditions. Now, we’re not going the full hog – pickled herrings and boiled lamb for dinner are not on our list of yummy Scandinavian must tries. However, the winter solstice, rather than Christian roots will see us trying to incorporate a book flood, celebrating Advent with the tale of the Yule Lads and feasting and exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve.

This year we also have the added surprise of a Christmas baby so our plans will need to be flexible with just 73 days until Christmas at the time of writing this … but who’s counting?