Recently, I was going through Julia's room with her. (I think she likes the company + moral support.) She has repeatedly expressed the desire to have a more minimalist room...one without a lot of useless stuff in it. We go through her room regularly, but she felt like she still had more things than she needed. With visions of Bea + Scott's boys' adolescent bedrooms (pictured above) in her head, Julia was feeling motivated.
As Julia pulled out bins + boxes, there were so many little things that I recognized as gifts + stocking stuffers. These gifts became things she felt obligated to keep...even if she didn't need or use them. Julia recognized them as nice things...potentially useful things...but she just never used them.
As Julia agonized over each special book + pen, I thought about my role in this struggle. It can be hard to know what our children (or any of us really) will connect deeply with...so we gift a number of things in order to give them options.
I went through all the toys in my girls' rooms with them every few months even when they were toddlers in order to let them know that they didn't have to feel obligated to keep things (even the things I gave them). If I want them to keep some things, then I can take responsibility for keeping those things. Realizing that has, at times, allowed me to let go too.
Even with these realizations + actions, excess things remain. And stuff comes with responsibilities...which often translates to just plain burden. With a birthday close to Christmas, Julia has reminded me a few times that she really doesn't want any more stuff. She said it felt like waking up inside a cloud the morning after the big purge. I know how hard she worked to let things go, so I'm honoring her request.
My goal this season is the same as it has ever been...to not gift useless filler...because that is no gift at all.
Some ideas of what we'll be doing instead:
Inspiring photo via Zero Waste Home.
Just a little inspiration for simple, holiday decorating. Greenery + candles are simple + festive. I love using natural things that can composted (plants, paper + food) and useful things that can be found around the house (socks, candles, baskets + jars). It doesn't take a whole lot to make the season bright!
All lovely photos via links.
Little luxuries are the epitome of simple gifts. Laura Ingalls Wilder's vivid depictions of her childhood Christmases are visions I return to each year. A stick of candy, an orange, a handmade doll...each gift savored + enjoyed to the fullest.
Two stories I heard recently sparked thoughts of simple luxuries as well. One involves parents who gifted their children an open space + presence on the floor to play with the toys they already had in their home on Christmas morning...just what they really want!
Another involved a single dad of quadruplets who is struggling with work + caring for his daughters during this pandemic. He said that the girls know when he is struggling with money when he puts the Ferraro Rocher back on the shelf, because it is his favorite treat (i.e. simple luxury).
Simple gifts can become sweet luxuries when we savor the small things in our daily lives. Another tchotchke doesn't stand a chance of stirring our hearts when we are surrounded by clutter or shop for "hauls" with every paycheck. Simple gifts land with true value + meaning, when we've cultivated gratitude + slowed the pace of consumption during the rest of the year.
As parents, we set the tone in our homes. As partners, friends, sisters, brothers, daughters + sons, we can offer our lives as quiet, humble, open examples.
The gifts above are offered as sparks rather than as things to necessarily purchase. Each category offers an abundance of individualized options. Increased cost does not communicate an increased level of love. Thoughtful gifts need not cost money, those who made them or the earth. As always, gift with love. :)
All lovely photos via links.
Handmade gifts are my favorite ones to give. It's fun to think of what each special recipient will like + then to pour love into every stitch or stroke. My goal is always to give simple, lovely + useful gifts. Just a few thoughts ::
A hat, scarf or mittens for getting outside this winter.
A soft friend for keeping them company during stay-at-home times.
A candle to bring light to the darkness.
A treat to enjoy while on zoom.
A reusable bag for a little zero-waste-ness during quick grocery runs.
A calendar to remind them that they are loved every day of the year.
A fanny pack for treasures found on long winter walks.
A basket to hold a plant friend or bits + bobs.
A game to foster connection.
A loaf of something sweet or savory to leave on their doorstep.
A coat to keep them cozy too.
A fresh mask for health.
All lovely photos via links.
Last week we celebrated a birthday- yay! When it comes to gifts, I always like to think of things that are little luxuries + also love to gift experiences (especially now that my girls can buy themselves a lot of what they need + want). It takes a little creativity to gift experiences these days, but I tried my best. :) Both little luxuries + experiences are especially lovely right now...and the celebration of a birthday is a wonderful opportunity to support a few of the local businesses we love as well.
One of our favorite plant stores is taking appointments in order to keep the number of customers low enough to keep from spreading the virus + to allow for spring shopping/planting. One gift was a couple of cute pots I'd previously picked up to give my birthday girl...along with an appointment to shop for a couple of plants.
A gift certificate to a favorite, little, local bookstore made another gift. I double checked that the shop can order any book she desires. I thought it might be fun to just have a little cash that has to be spent + to decide how to spend it on some special books.
Birthday dinner involved picking up take-out from our favorite sushi spot along with a homemade cake (yum). It felt good for both giver + receiver to know that our celebration supported some of our favorite neighbors + the work they do to make this a good place to live.
I love Valentine's Day. I loved making + addressing valentines as a child, and I love spreading + celebrating love today. I feel that the simplest acts communicate warm feelings best. Taking the time to focus on love + appreciation is really all it takes. Handmade love notes, hugs + maybe a little something sweet to eat qualifies as a celebration to me.
A few more ways to celebrate:
Valentines Day can be a beautiful reminder to offer ourselves a little self-love. Choose an organic cotton first layer from the drawer + take the time to moisturize, stretch + smile.
Friendship is the best part of love. Share a phone call, a meal or a movie with a favorite friend...or three.
Make valentines...write love notes (check the recycling + scrap fabric bins for supplies).
Make heart-shaped pizza + popcorn with the little ones + open all those valentines together.
Make a playlist to share.
Head out to a locally owned, farm-to-table restaurant or make dinner together at home.
Give some locally roasted, bulk, fair-trade coffee or a bar of fair-trade chocolate.
If flowers or jewelry is involved, make it fair-trade or vintage.
Share an unhurried hand or foot massage with a little homemade, scented oil.
Hold hands. Give + receive long hugs.
By choosing handmade, low-waste, fair-trade, local, organic, or vintage tokens, we spread love to farmers, neighbors, the the planet as well.
Lovely photos via links, unlinked photo mine.
Lots of love to you, my friends,
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood.
They had set night watches over their sheep.
Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them.
They were terrified.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid.
I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide:
A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.
This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time