It’s time to check in on our holiday traditions… With all that’s been swirling in the last couple of years, our little family is using this season to assess and refocus ourselves on what matters to us.
The year before Henry was born, we suffered a catastrophic financial loss. 9/11 happened and the trickle-down devastation hit my family’s livelihood just before the holiday season. Ian lost his aerospace engineering job. I’ll spare you the “poor me” details, as many were hit in much more horrible ways than us, but suffice to say we were pregnant and had just bought our first house along with that much “needed” massive SUV! (Oh, the things I could teach my younger self about “needs” versus “wants”!) Ian was a permanent employee, not a contractor at the time, so this layoff felt shocking! We thought we were stable. We believed we were secure. Our very core was rocked.
That year we scaled everything down, as we frantically tried to assemble some sort of a holiday spirit. No big gifts. My American extended family drew names at Thanksgiving and stopped trying to outdo each other with fancy gifts. Ian and I really circled the wagons and began reflecting on the true spirit of the season. It’s funny to be facing our 20th Christmas since then and thinking back on the trauma we survived. Our world was upside down and the eventual righting of our ship would require extreme measures like moving our small family to England the following Christmas and eventually to Africa! Looking back though, we’ve thrived, not just survived those first few very rough years, and I can proudly report that we’ve maintained most of the lessons learned.
December two decades later finds us feeling financially secure. We feel stable. No plans to move. No plans to shake anything up intentionally. Ian is out of the aerospace industry. Henry is a sophomore in college. He’s secure in himself and his finances. My businesses feel solid and not overwhelming. Life feels good and the bank account feels flush, but we still don’t want to fall back into the giving trap. Spending money out of “seasonal obligation” is something that rubs me the wrong way, hardcore.
We took some time a couple weeks ago to create this list for our Jardine Xmas 2021. We’ve been low-key with “buying” every holiday for the last 20-years, but our hope is this new list will further dig us into celebrating simple joy. We want it to stick for another 20-years! I documented it and emailed it to us all (for future reference) and I’m excited to see what we all come up with!
Here’s the email:
“Mindful and intentional gifts for Xmas 2021! Let’s not get gifts just to get them… let’s really dial in and let the spirit of the season sing true!
In the stockings:
- Two quotes that they’d enjoy
- Two pictures or ads for *reasonable* gifts you’d buy if you wanted to spend the money and if they didn’t have enough stuff already
- Two well wishes and why, like “I’m wishing that you get a promotion at work because….”
- One thing that you will do sometime in Jan – March on behalf of the other person, ex. “I’m going to volunteer one afternoon at ____ “
- Stocking stuffers $10 each limit for each person.
- Free and regifted things ok too – be resourceful! There are samples and free magazines everywhere… and plants, don’t forget leaves off plants for me to propagate 🙂
For Xmas Eve:
- Plan a week trip for the family, not ridiculously extravagant… (maybe we will end up actually doing it!?) Think through the itinerary, etc…. Everyone will share theirs on Xmas Eve
Wrapped under the tree – let’s be crafty with pretty wrapping paper or at least ribbons!
- One gift you make
- Two IOUs for a service or task to do for the other person by end of February
- Two fancy or outrageous gift descriptions that you’d buy if money was no option… and why! Pictures if you can!”
I’m excited to see how it all pans out. Since we are all so hectic with things leading up to the holidays, I expect there may be some snafus and forgotten items, but the fun with that is that no one needs to run out to the store! Maybe out to the yard to get some leaves for a craft project. Maybe to the printer to grab a picture. Maybe to the kitchen to make a treat. All the flurry finds us at home, together. Giggling and celebrating the way *we* believe this holiday should be spent!
Henry comes home in a week till Jan 2nd. Ian is off December 21-25th. My business wraps up on the 22nd. Then it’s just the three of us… and the silly pets… a bubble amidst the holiday hubbub. We will go to the beach, drive the Xmas lights on Jekyll Island, eat fried shrimp, watch our “family holiday movies” (Love Actually – for 20th year, Die Hard and The Holiday, I’m sure, along with some classics!) We will sleep in, pop kettle korn, eat more great food, read, play games, make pizza. We will listen and share and laugh and love. Most of all we will BE PRESENT, not just give presents.
Wishing you a merry everything and joyful days this holiday season! May you allow the spirit of the season to wrap you up like a beautiful gift and fill you with warmth & love! Hoping you find & give grace as often as you can, and wishing you a fabulous celebration of your own perfectly imperfect holiday, customized for your family and what you hold dear!
PS my Xmas menu is live on our bakery page!