this is how my Christmas goes (boxing bags and bob-sleds). yours?

Posted on December 19th, 2011

This week in Sunday Life I anti-Christmas

Photo via twistedvintage.blogspot.com

Christmas is like cheap pizza – all cheesy, intoxicating promise, but somehow (so disappointingly!) winds up tasting like cardboard.

Actually, correction. Christmas is like cheap pizza to the violently lactose and gluten-intolerant – something everyone else seems to enjoy, while you get…tofu.

Why all the bah humbuggery? At the core of my festive deflation is the mass, crass, exhausting, relationship-compromising ritual of buying presents. Did you see that Black Friday footage from the US? The whole notion of massly, crassly buying up stuff for “loved ones” seems to send human nature to its most depraved base. And the fact that it’s such a far cry from the original premise of festive giving just deepens my malaise. As, I think, it does for so many.

Admittedly my family as a whole is particularly and notoriously awkward with the ritual of gift-giving. We always keep our receipts; invariably our Kris Kringle recipient feels guilty accepting anything isn’t wholly functional and necessary. Um, I just don’t think I’ll get maximum salad-making use out of the hand-carved bowl you paddled three days through shark-infested waters to some Solomon archipelago to purchase. I know, why don’t you just keep it?

Over the years, we’ve tried all kinds of consumerist-dodging approaches, but none have really hit the right tone. We’ve done Kris Kringle with an upper price limit of $20 (which pretty much gets you a Led Zeppelin CD from the discount bin). We went through a giving-a-goat-to-a-third-world-village phase. We spent lunch wondering whether said village ever got said goat, which was a bit of a cracker fizzler.  One year we all got a boxing bag from Mum and Dad. Not each. One to share between six. The next year it was one-sixth of a ping-pong table. The idea was to generate less “stuff”, a commons approach. Which would have been sound if we weren’t all adults living in different states.

So what’s the nourishing, satisfying, happy way to navigate one’s way through this? The thing is we humans actually do like giving. A bunch of studies show that one of the most effective way to get a happiness hit is to give away your money, which certainly suggests donating to charity – unconditionally – is a great route. I’ve previously written about how giving to consequential strangers brings us joy – giving a jar of chutney to the garbage man and the guy who makes you coffee each day is a lovely angle.

This week I stumbled on the Center for a New American Dream’s How to Simplify the Holidays guide. Their aim is to reduce mass, crass consumption and up the connection and care factor. They suggest giving “experience vouchers” (“This entitles you to three home-cooked meals at my place”), re-gifting parties (everyone brings in their waffle makers and $20 CDs from last year, whacks in a pile and swaps; so wrong and yet somehow so right!) and they suggest actually giving young kids just the box and wrapping the present came in.

Festive giving, by the way, is a crude reenactment of the time three wise blokes showed gratitude to God with some myrrh and so on. Which is why I like this suggestion: hold a gratitude ceremony on Christmas morning where everyone writes down what they’re most grateful for from the year that was. The notes go in a hat and are read out; if you guess who wrote it, your Kris Kringle goes to them. A little complex, but nicely mindful.

For Grandparents: get the grandkids to write down the best thing gramps taught them and turn it into a book….I like the e-program Blurb for this).

Another study I encountered this year: making stuff by hand makes us happy. The Simplify Your Holiday guide suggests having a cooking day with friends (instead of Christmas drinks), the results of which you give as gifts. To this end I’ve just invited some friends around to make some fermented pickles. You may laugh, but they were all keen.

Other studies say experiences make us happier than stuff ever will. To this end, in the time-honoured Wilson family tradition of getting Christmas just a little bit off tone and awkward, we’re all chipping in to go… bob-sledding. Think of us when you do your gratitude ceremony Christmas morning.

Are you going simple this year? How so? I reckon EVERYONE is craving less this Christmas….even if we haven’t quite finessed the technique for achieving it. Or not achieving it…

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • Bec

    This post doesn’t really sit well with your previous posts suggesting Christmas present ideas…

    [Reply]

    Jenna Reply:

    Agree. That was my first thought when I read the column yesterday. And why aren’t you having your own gratitude ceremony on xmas morning? Seems like you’re passing on this in favor of going bob-sleighing.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    We are doing a gratitude ceremony! And donating a buffalo to a village in Cambodia my brother and his girlfriend know about/worked in….
    I have limited word count in which to explain the full catastrophe!

    [Reply]

    miss jodi Reply:

    how’s the ‘keep sarah in check parade’ working out for you folk? you know something interesting there is no way i could afford to buy any of the presents that sarah suggested in the previous posts about christmas ideas……….but i loved them anyway, all of them. i wish i could, especially the merfins because they were so cute and such a beautiful and original idea. all the gifts were whimsical and different. just take it all in and do what you want, whatever floats you boat at christmas……..have you heard that christmas carol ‘little drummer boy?’ its my favourite…….such a gorgeous song. you folk should have a listen, theres the wise men with their expensive gifts for the little bloke and then theres the drummer boy who has nothing to give but to play his drum. everyone has something to give if you feel compelled to give it. the best version is by glen campbell because he has a chorus of bagpipes playing and its awesome.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    I do say in Xmas present post that I don’t really do Xmas presents…I offer the guide for readers who do!

    [Reply]

    Trudi Reply:

    … well thanks to you Sarah and your ‘guide’. I purchased two pairs of merfins for my daughters for christmas! Oh and I covet one of those delicious bikes for myself one day soon xx

    [Reply]

  • Beck

    We are definitely taking a low-key approach to Christmas this year. Minimal gifts for our daughter and no adult gifts. It always amuses me to hear people complain about how many gifts they HAVE to buy and their struggle to find the perfect gift for someone they hardly know. After many years of trying to live up to the idea of Christmas that we are sold by retailers and the mass media it’s really liberating to turn your back on it.

    [Reply]

  • http://janinejackson.wordpress.com Neen

    I think the previous blogs with gift suggestions were more like ‘well if you’re going to buy something, here are some good ideas’.

    I like this post and I love the fermented pickle party idea. My friends and I have been doing similar things over the last few years. We have a ‘no purchase’ policy which means we have to make gifts for each other. Spice mixes, chutneys, jams, rubs for meat, etc.

    On Christmas morning, my family and I all put an idea into a hat of something we can all do together in the coming months. Then we pull one idea out of the hat and we go and have a nice experience together. Last year we did a Food Safari and we’ve had ideas like fruit picking on Bells Line Road, etc.

    Christmas isn’t meant to be about spending loads of money and ruining the planet while doing so!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    PS…I wound up making activated salt and vinegar almonds for everyone!

    [Reply]

    Adam Cordner Reply:

    Why would you do such a horrible thing like that?

    [Reply]

    Louise Reply:

    Have you ever tasted them Adam?? I would say they are quite tasty.

    Adam Cordner Reply:

    No :(

    jacinta Reply:

    I am intrigued. I’m a salt & vinegar potato chip junkie (it is one of my downfalls despite being a healthy vegetarian). I want to know more about these almond treats

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    it’s on my edible xmas gift post.

  • Emma

    Yep, this year our family have a present rule that all gifts given should be either second hand, handmade or an experience. And any kris kringles my boyfriend and I have got in extended family celebrations are receiving hampers of homemade food like infused olive oils and sweets.

    [Reply]

  • Jane F

    We are doing the same Beck. My family agrees that society is guilted into mass spending to satisfy some crazy up-keep-of-appearances, so we’re thumbing our noses at the Joneses this year. A nice book or CD will suffice, a simple but lovely lunch together… and an indulgent sigh of relief that the bulk of 2012 won’t be spent paying off the Credit Card hangover from Xmas…. viva simplicity!

    Happy Xmas all :)

    [Reply]

  • http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/fartwaffle Adam Cordner

    Thank you Sarah for calling out the elephant in the room.

    Every year I have the same disposition, I can’t stand Christmas.

    I blame Coke, Kmart and every other retailer/supplier for tarting up what is essentially the celebration of the birth of a man born in the Middle East.

    It sucks that I hate Christmas, it’s the same distain I hold for the established church, but the irony is I love Jesus (and quantum theory), I just can’t stand his followers.

    There is an event in the Bible where a bunch of people are using the Temple to sell religious trinkets and gifts, the place of worship was reduced to a market. When Jesus saw this he started knocking over the stalls and threw them out, he was disappointed that worship had been turned into something you buy, something that was pure and simple had become commercialised as corrupt.

    I wonder, (in a cliché) what would Jesus do if he came back around Christmas? What would he think of Westfield car park rage, the financial stress on families and this Santa guy, a Norwegian man who lives in the snow and judges all the naughty kids once a year.

    Would Jesus be saddened or would he ask to be disassociated with the festivities and say “look guys, I appreciate the birthday bash you put on for me, but you have taken it waaaay to far, do you even know my story? Do you know I’m Jewish?”

    As for the three wise blokes, it is a crude re-enactment . Consider this, what use is frankincense and myrrh to an infant? Toys would make more sense, or a decent cot for crying out loud he’s in a manger guys! But those essences and gifts were very valuable and in that time treated like a savings account. You didn’t have cash you had items of value to trade, so why give it to a baby? I think the three wise men were making an investment in the so called messiah, right or wrong, they believed that this child would bring peace (Shalom) to the world so they supported him, that to me reads like philanthropy. Theres nothing wrong in my books in investing in something you believe will end suffering.

    So maybe we should show gratitude like the three wise blokes and invest to bring peace on earth (and I dont mean money).

    Happy Hanukkah for tomorrow!

    [Reply]

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Agreed on all of it!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.lucentimagery.com lucent imagery

    I have zero presents to buy this year and no need to tackle the shops stressed. I dislike the massive advertising push that tells people to buy things they don’t need, can’t afford or will be on sale days afterwards. I wrote a blog post about this last week with my plans for showing my family i love them with words, actions and food. I am also a fan of promising things with personal vouchers. Your pickling party is sure to be great!

    [Reply]

  • Sam

    If xmas gift giving is awkward for your family, why don’t you just do away with it all together. Is that fact that everyone is together enough?

    [Reply]

  • Sue

    Hi Sarah,

    I am new to your blog…..so I can not comment on what you said on earlier posts….however I do think the concept of making Christmas Simple is great. I have been doing random acts of kindness all of Advent and I will continue to do nice things for other people right up to Christmas. I try my best to give homemade gifts but to be honest my children are young adults and just starting out and they do need things. So I try hard to buy things that are needed and not just things that will be tossed in a few years.

    Sue
    fruitylemonade

    [Reply]

  • Selena

    Thanks Sarah,
    I know we are not meant to feel this way, but I have never really been that fond of Christmas. I am actually lactose and gluten-intolerant and I think your comment ‘Christmas is like cheap pizza to the violently lactose and gluten-intolerant’ rings true for me!
    I find receiving gifts a little awkward and uncomfortable. I also find it to be a time of year that reinforces the fact that yet another year is coming to a close and I’m still single and no closer to the life I thought I would be leading. I often feel rather alone and isolated in the crowds of couples and their offspring.
    It’s also difficult to know who to buy for….there is just me, but all my significant family members and friends have partners and children.
    I actually like buying gifts for everyone, but find Christmas to be an expensive and generally uncomfortable experience. I receive free alcohol from my workplace that I take along for others to enjoy, but prefer not to indulge myself so as to consciously keep a firm happy and collected veneer for the other revellers.
    I know this sounds hohum, and normally I am quite an optimistic person, but I am just telling it as it is.
    I do agree that it is best to give ‘experiences’ as gifts. I gave my sister a ticket to join me at the Salt’nPepa Pool Party this year..she doesn’t get out much these days…and it was some good ol’ school fun!

    [Reply]

  • http://fiftytwo.biz Katie

    I think Christmas is made overcomplicated on so many levels – gift giving, who to spend it with, what to eat. I did a little post about this the other week. Perhaps some of you will enjoy it…
    http://fiftytwo.biz/wordpress/index.php/2011/12/christmas-kiss/

    [Reply]

    Sara Reply:

    Hi Katie, great post. It still amuses me that we need to be told how to “survive” xmas day.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.adventures-of-lauren.blogspot.com Lauren

    I like giving, as you said in the post it does make us naturally happy. But I think society has moved away from just giving at Christmas, and the whole debacle is now caught up with status anxiety, showing off and showing everyone else up.

    I like to finish my Christmas shopping in November, avoiding all the rushes and sales and consumer statistics and crazy opening hours. I keep my eye out all year for things that might make those I love happy to own, things they would never get for themselves but will hopefully treasure as something special. I also like to think about giving as sharing; I like to share a book that I’ve loved, or a recipe that’s delicious, a painting that made me smile or a movie that touched me that I think will also effect the receiver in a similar way. I put a lot of thought into my gifts, and as such I never worry about whether the people I give them to will like them. This also means that money plays no part in my gift giving, because the worth of the gift is the love with which it’s given, not the price tag on the bottom.

    For me, not giving gifts is not the answer, because it gives me and my family and friends a lot of joy and a lot of special moments to share. Sometimes at Christmas it feels like every lifestyle blog is telling us to ditch the gifts altogether, but I think it can be done in a way that is meaningful if people think about how they feel as individuals, and not lose themselves in the world of consumerism.

    [Reply]

    Stephanie Reply:

    Beautifully put!

    [Reply]

    Han Reply:

    I second that stephanie!

    [Reply]

    picardie.girl Reply:

    Thirded!

    [Reply]

    Sally Reply:

    I agree totally. Christmas is only a tired old cardboard pizza if you let it be that. It is only a comercially driven, greedy, overcomplicated holiday if you let it be that.

    I love giving. I love the beautiful sentiments of the holiday season and, truth be told, I love shopping! Gifts can be a wonderful and thoughtful expression of love – and if they are store bought, does it really matter? In my opinion there is nothing nicer that opening a gift from someone you love, and knowing they thought of you. I don’t believe in restrictions or forcing gift giving into a formula for everyone. It is not about the price tag, but the expression of love. And love resonates differently in each of us.

    I love baubles, and Christmas wrapping, and bon bons, and gifts. I would never want anything less for my family for Christmas. You can be mindful and reflective, and still celebrate the traditions of the holidays.

    Happy Holidays!

    [Reply]

    picardie.girl Reply:

    Well, said, Sally. Both of you have articulated, better than me, how I feel.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.jacintafleur.com jacinta

    We are going simple. Having just been hitched, we received a truck load of wedding gifts, so it has been easy to convince people to ‘not-give-us-gifts’.

    Instead I pruchased half a dozen bubble blowers with bubble mixture and I’m giving one to each of the little kids in the family/friends. I figure that even though they are plastic (a small amount of plastic), everyone from grandma to distant cousins to parents-that-have-bought-their-kid-everything will enjoy watching a toddler blow bubbles on Christmas Day.

    [Reply]

  • Louise

    Sorry, but you sound extremely ungrateful: “Um, I just don’t think I’ll get maximum salad-making use out of the hand-carved bowl you paddled three days through shark-infested waters to some Solomon archipelago to purchase. I know, why don’t you just keep it?”.

    If someone went to that much trouble to buy me a gift, I would value the sentiment (even if I didn’t particularly like the gift). Isn’t it the thought that counts?!

    [Reply]

    picardie.girl Reply:

    I think so too, Louise. It saddens me that people wouldn’t just accept a gift with good grace and enjoy it – no wonder gift-giving is stressful!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    I totally agree with you…we are shocking! There are a host of reasons which I can’t go into…much to do with growing up with no money and feeling guilty. If that makes sense. It’s something i consciously try to correct – letting guilt take over from gratitude.

    [Reply]

    Patricia Reply:

    Sarah, I really understand where you are coming from here. Our enviroment as children, leaves a deep deep imprint on us, and it becomes a part of who we are.

  • Mia Bluegirl

    I dont particularly like Christmas. The greed, the drama, the forced enthusiasm for family you don’t like and wouldn’t see on the other 364 days of the year… ugh. And what’s with the snowmen and foresty pines that gaudily adorn every store from October onwards? Are we really that superficial as a society we haven’t noticed we are spraying fake snow in temperate/ tropical summer?

    Apparently not.

    I love your idea of gratitude, it really sets the tone of what the holiday SHOULD be about. Even if it’s just me writing a “I am grateful for…” list in the privacy of my bedroom in the morning it is definitely something I plan to incorporate.

    Thank you Sarah! I am grateful for you, and your blog! (There we go, off to a promising start already.) :)

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    Of course, the gratitude thing isn’t my idea. The Simply the Holidays pdf really is a good read for such ideas…

    [Reply]

  • picardie.girl

    I love giving gifts to people that I care about – I choose them with great care and thought, so I am grateful that my family love presents and give wonderful reactions to my carefully chosen gifts! Bah humbug to people who think all gift-giving is crass and greedy.

    We show that we care by spending time together and by choosing something for each other that we think will be enjoyed and appreciated. It doesn’t have to be expensive or a big deal, but I like that there is a particular time of year to all get together and give each other something. If we did away with all of that completely, it would be a bit sad in my opinion.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    I totally agree with you, I buy gifts for everyone, which I put a lot of thought into and know they will enjoy. I might give a hand made gift, I might give a store bought gift, it might be cheap or expensive, I don’t see why it matters.
    I love Christmas and spending it with my family and I don’t get why some people have such an issue with it.

    [Reply]

    aussiebeachgirl Reply:

    It’s the issue of “excess” that’s the problem being aired here. Greedy conglomerates; hyped up advertising by the media; pressure on lower socio-economic communities to overspend; over-indulging; self-indulging; the excuse to drown oneself in alcohol once a year – over-eat, over-extend, overdo! It does lead me to wonder how we are viewed by the less fortunate and those of other faiths overall. Haven’t you wondered how they view us? Think about it…they see us going crazy in the name of a ceremony nobody cares to remember anymore; they see that we don’t observe it religiously, faithfully, or patriotically; they compare their Ramadan or Rosh Hashanah to ours and see it for the flawed observance it is; they hear our criticisms of the church; they marvel that we call ourselves Christians when it suits, then practice atheism or call ourselves agnostic for 364 days of the year. We are, simply put, a controversy and a laugh a minute! Little wonder we’re an enigma to other believers and faiths.

    Consider this too. Why is it that on Boxing Day an influx of “unwanted Christmas presents” is being listed on eBay??? People no longer even bother to take them back for exchange – they’re just loading them off for money! I can’t think of one religion who sets aside a day of excess and silliness, like we do. Can you?

    So Sarah (above) et al, it’s not about “getting” it, it’s about questioning why we even do it anymore. If we’re going to do it for faith, then stand up and embrace it with both hands, 365 days of the year – not just at Christmas.

    [Reply]

  • Leila

    Perhaps you don’t know your family well enough if you all have the need to keep receipts. Surely even for $20 you could find something meaningful.

    We don’t give gifts. Instead we put the money into the meal itself (only time of the year we would splurge on lobster, leg of ham etc…)

    [Reply]

  • Patricia

    I agree with all of your post.
    The last 2-3 years we have not given adult family presents. I believe, just being together sharing the meal is enough. I give a token of homemade shortbread and chocolate truffles
    I give my two little grandsons a gift.
    The hype and hysteria surrounding it all, I find shallow, and so removed from it’s true meaning and message.

    Oh….and I really believe that it should always be ‘Christmas’…not Xmas.

    [Reply]

  • Patricia

    I agree with all of your post.
    The last 2-3 years we have not given adult family presents. I believe, just being together sharing the meal is enough. I give a token of homemade shortbread and chocolate truffles
    I give my two little grandsons a gift.
    The hype and hysteria surrounding it all, I find shallow, and so removed from it’s true meaning and message.

    Oh….and I really believe that it should always be written as ‘Christmas’…not Xmas.

    [Reply]

  • zumah

    Seriously Sarah,Is this blog some kind of joke without a punchline?

    Every word out of your mouth (or on the screen in this case) is utter nonsense.

    You live in a tin shed in Byron? oh,how fabulously chic it is to pretend to be poor!
    Where do you keep your collection of expensive designer clothes? In your Sydney penthouse?

    You hate consumerism but brag about how you used to edit cosmo and host Master Chef?
    are you kidding me?

    “I have an integrated voice across all media” lol. It’s lines like this that want to make me reach for the nearest barf bag!

    Stop pretending you’re trying to save the world and just admit you think acting like you do is the best way for you to make a buck.

    No one here will judge you.We’re all far too spiritually developed for that,right?

    [Reply]

    Levi Reply:

    Ouch, but somehow true.

    [Reply]

    miss jodi Reply:

    true? compared to what?

    [Reply]

    Sara Reply:

    Hey Zumah, how about you back off from Sarah. Spend some time reading her blogs and learn what she’s really about.

    Oh, and whilst you’re obviously in a festive mood, Happy Xmas!

    [Reply]

    Vee Reply:

    Sarah needs to make a living, if this is how she does it, whilst also contributing positive ideas to the word, what does it matter to you?

    Someone can still make money, and back off from the crazy consumerism of Xmas. Why do people feel they have to constantly criticise another person’s success? Nobody is forcing you to read Sarah’s blog, and the fact that you do tells me that she is good at what she does.

    Calm down and have a wonderful xmas!

    Sarah, I love reading your blog, it inspires me almost every day! PS, Week 4 of no-sugar, and still haven’t touched the stuff, except probably in the sauces of a couple of meals I had to eat out in public so as not to make a fuss!!

    [Reply]

    Adam Cordner Reply:

    Dear Zumah

    Your comment reminds me of a fart, it may be funny and interesting to you but really it stinks and will be forgotten.

    Sorry Zumah, that was a bit harsh of me, Sarah told me to play nice, so I deleted all the bad things I was going to say to you, but they were gangster bad.

    I’m confused, nothing in your comment relates to anything unless you actually read the blog. But to make this more interesting for myself I read your comment out loud pretending to be Pauline Hanson and it didn’t sound that bad, aside from that fact I’m Asian.

    I hate consumerism and Tim Bailey, but I work for a company that runs the world and I can’t avoid the weather. What should I do?

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, I respect yours and out concern for your nausea induced from reading this blog I have a tip for your, don’t read it, but having barf bags nearby is a good idea like you suggested.

    Did you get your barf bag/s from an airplane or can you by them at Woolworths, dammit, you see consumerism is everywhere. What constitutes a barf bag? I think they would be very good for carrying food that has a high moister percentage, say above 70%, like laksa or pre mixed milk and rice bubbles, no sugar (thats a bad word on here)

    Barf is a great word, it was also the name of the chef on “You Can’t Do That On Television” do you remember that Zumah? You know the one where if you say “I don’t know” you get slimed. No one get slimed anymore, this make me sad.

    Anyway, how are you? I’m good, last night I went to the Bavarian Bier Café, the name is very misleading because I asked for a Bavarian beer-coffee and was told they don’t make them. This enraged me, so in spite of their false advertising I made them pay by eating all the pork belly they had, mwwaaaa haaa haaaaa! Suckers.

    So Zumah are you celebrating Christmas this year? I asked Santa for nunchucks, I’ve been learning nunchuckery from YouTube, I’ve attached a link at the bottom of this comment where you can see my progress. I also asked for a Jedi robe, I know I know, it contradicts with ninja weapons but I guarantee you, no Star Trec fan will mess with us now.

    What are you doing for Christmas? I’m slow cooking a reindeer for Christmas dinner, the antlers are the best part, after you break them off you make a wish, I think that’s the tradition. Last year we hung Santa on a cross to combine Easter and Christmas, the kids hated it, not matter how hard they hit him no presents came out.

    Zumah, would you like to have Christmas with me? I have a spare Playstation controller, it’s not a cool as mine but it works, and there should be lots of reindeer left over.

    Oh but you should know that I’m not poor and I live in a penthouse in Sydney, I don’t have a collection of designer clothes but I do have a collection of hockey pucks, my favourite one still has a tooth in it.

    I must leave now, as promised here is the nunchuck clip.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsEZ2lpM0Yw

    [Reply]

    Levi Reply:

    Adam, you’re still a wanker!

    [Reply]

    Adam Cordner Reply:

    Its true, I am, but I’m consistant

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Levi’s comment aside, Adam – do you really have a puck with a tooth in it? I used to date a hockey player who once got hit so hard on the stomach that he had the brand logo embedded in bruise on his belly for several days. I also dated a guy who owned several pairs of nunchucks and used to show off his skills regularly. Dont do it when you are drunk though. He cracked himself in the nuts more than once. I reckon if I formed a club of my exes you’d like them.

    Also, you can get barf bags from first aid suppliers or pharmacies, they are thicker than regular paper bags for obvious reasons. I spend a lot of time on boats. xx

    Adam Cordner Reply:

    No I dont, I have teeth missing from a puck though, but i do have a puck collection. I have been the victim of a stomach puck, people think we wear alot of padding but those things get through, it was so bad I couldnt sit up. This exes club could work, are any of them musicians?

    [Reply]

  • http://oneaprilmorning.net Laura

    I love gift giving. I try to put a lot of thought and effort into each gift, personalising it and ensuring that it is special and speaks to the relationship I share with the recipient. I understand what everyone is saying about the perfunctory-ness of it all but I still think exchanging gifts is nice. After all, it’s only once a year.

    Oh, and I love Christmas. I’m not religious at all but it’s the one day of the year that everybody in my expansive family can be together all at once. It’s not all rainbows but that’s part of the fun!

    I know it’s not cool to embrace the festive season for what it is but I think it’s the only way to avoid the (as Sarah says) bah humbuggery.

    Merry Christmas!

    [Reply]

  • Patricia

    I am not impressed with the agressive/defensive tones developing here.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is not unreasonable to express a different one. I don’t feel that you have to come to the Sarah’s defense, I think her shoulders are broad enough to take others opinions on board. She would be mature enough not to take it personally.

    All of this defensive talk of ‘back off’ sounds a big school yard.

    [Reply]

    Sally Reply:

    Once again, I agree totally – surely a blog is a place for sharing lots of different opinions. Otherwise, why would Sarah want people to comment at all?

    I personally don’t agree with a lot of Sarah’s perspective on Christmas, but I should be entitled to say that. And so should others.

    [Reply]

    Jan Reply:

    There are ‘opinions’ and then there’s ‘snark’!

    Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech but sometimes the way it is delivered can be seen as offensive. And Patricia, you see the words “back off” as school yard stuff. I don’t see it this way at all – more someone just saying ‘hey, how about you ease off a bit”.

    [Reply]

  • Mia Bluegirl

    As an aside… at least you know you’ve made it, Sarah. :) You wouldn’t attract such strong criticism if you were irrelevant! Ha ha!

    [Reply]

  • Ava

    Yuck I feel sick at how crazy I went this year. I found some beautiful items for some beautiful people… but the whole experience felt like some intense video game which I came out of with a hangover.

    On the bright side I bought a few things from the Oxfam store. Looked over the goat gift cards. Felt funny about giving a donation to someone. it’s sort of saying I am almighty and have made a grand and lovely gesture FOR you, with an undertone of “you wouldn’t have done this yourself”?? Maybe not. But I would have felt like a jerk not giving somone a gift especially thougt out for them and their enjoyment. And if I feel so strongly about giving a poor community a goat I should do so myself…….

    Anyhoo, every second person I speak to holds the idea of Christmas with very much disdain. I can’t remember someone’s eyes filling with glee when the first Christmas deco’s go up in the shops, past age 5. I think you’re right, as time goes by we are growign out of the nonsense of it.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.rachaelblogs.co.uk Rachael

    I LOVE buying gifts. I only buy for people very close to me (mother, father, grandparents, best friend and boyfriend) so never have a huge list of people to buy for. I love really putting thought in to what I’m going to buy or make. it’s nice to buy gifts, I don’t really bother much with birthdays so Christmas is a nice excuse – not to show someone you love them with a gift but to treat them. Everyone loves a treat. I’m not at all bothered about getting gifts, its the giving that I like. I always do something for charity too so I give to people who don’t have much.

    [Reply]

    Jason Reply:

    I HATE buying gifts. Way too frustrating. I don’t mind the giving part but the buying part is a pain in the arse. I write a list of what I need and give it to my mum. She then shops for me and I fix her up when she’s done. Brilliant! I highly recommend it.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.creativevoyage.co.uk m

    the making route is good esp if its not something that becomes horrible nightmare of production… second hand books, recycling, I also think setting up tradtions like I have friend aroudn to write cards for amnesty Prisioners of Conscience each year, go out to the cinema are good. Staying in and reading lots of books. Also making sure I buy myself a slap up to me from me present.

    [Reply]

  • Stephanie

    I love the fermented pickle-party idea. That would completely work for me. I gave up the whole serious commercial tradition of Christmas about twenty years ago, i.e. as soon as I left home for uni, etc. These days I only make small things for people that I know they will appreciate – e.g. knitted socks (who doesn’t love hand-knitted socks?) – and I’ve managed to train my mum into giving me only small, useful things like some knitting yarn and that book on gardening I’ve been wanting. My best friend and I always exchange books, as we’re both big readers. Each year I get a lovely book from my pal with a beautiful inscription. We like this ritual! And then, basta. The rest is about eating, exchanging handmade cards with expressions of appreciation (went about doing this last week to friends, colleagues, my doctor). I think we can be a bit too bombastic and/or guilt-laden about all of this. It can be lovely and it doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.

    [Reply]

  • http://Www.realitychick.com.au reality chick

    I love buying gifts and receiving thoughtful, useful ones. I love seeing my family open gifts I’ve chosen, even just small inexpensive tokens. Christmas is about thinking of others and being together and celebrating the holiday and the year that was. In our family, Xmas spiraled a few years ago into an ‘all about the kids’ mentality which involved no presents for the adults, big presents for the kids and many they didn’t seem to appreciate.
    So two years ago I took a stand and said I would buy a $10 present for every adult and if they all wanted to do the same, great. We swap lists beforehand with suggestions you can follow (or not, up to you), and on the day everyone (not just the kids) has a few pressies to open. Who says you can’t do a great pressie for under $10? We had Christmas early this year and I went home with stuff I loved and could use: gourmet mustard, soy candles, a couple of little dipping dishes, a Chilli plant. I’m all for making homemade gifts too – I’d be pleased as punch if I got a jar of homemade pesto or jam. Christmas doesn’t have to cripple you financially but there is something lovely, for me, about gift giving. (And I think it teaches kids about thinking of others too!)

    [Reply]

    Stephanie Reply:

    Great gift ideas/gift list! Couldn’t agree more.

    [Reply]

  • Patricia

    I have posted some comments above. But wanted to post this, as it how I have felt for a few years, and is a subject I feel strongly about.

    The melodramatic media hype and lead up to Christmas Day of….
    how to ‘survive’
    how to ‘not stress’
    how to ‘destress’ after
    how to ‘cope’
    then….
    what/how to set the table
    what to wear for the day
    what to eat
    what/how to decorate
    what to buy
    what to make

    We have been programmed to do it a certain way, and people feel like they are less than, or like a failure if they don’t feel a certain way, or cannot afford, or their circumstances don’t allow them to ‘do’ Christmas a certain way. Questioning themselves, thinking there must be something wrong, for not feeling the hype that they are feeding us to feel.

    I have two grandchildren now 12 and 9. When my own children were little I absolutely loved Christmas, the excitement, the build up, as I was seeing it through their eyes.
    But now I see and feel it differently. I am on my own now.

    Also, there are some of us who were brought up in a simple enviroment, without a lot of money, no extravangances and not indulged. That stays within the core of us, and it surfaces again as we get older, as we become uncomfortable with glitz and anything superficial. We feel detached from it, because we cannot identify with it Because we know the simple excitement we felt as a child from the ‘once a year-present’ we got at Christmas with out all of the fuss and fluff and trimming surrounding it.

    I grew up never having a Christmas tree. I didn’t miss it, because I never had one. It was what I was used to. We went to Midnight Mass and we had our own family ritual that way. With my own children we went to Mass the evening before, to make it easier for me to cook the Christmas Dinner. Yes, my own children had a Christmas tree did get more from Santa than I did, because we could afford it. But nothing nothing like what the children get now or expect to get.

    I don’t like what I see now, I don’t feel part of it. Is it because of my age (65) my circumstances? I have asked myself that…..but I truly don’t think so.

    It feels so regimented, programmed, text book perfect.
    It makes me feel so so sad, that there are people who just cannot afford to be text book, and I hate the fact that they can feel or made to feel different or sad, because they don’t do Christmas a certain way.

    Do you know what I mean……..do you hear what I am trying to say?

    [Reply]

    miss jodi Reply:

    hey. I hear you. I’m not a parent or a grandma and i am a younger person, but old enough to understand and relate to a lot of what you have said. we grew up, not poor, but we weren’t close to being even middle class. we were just isolated geographically beyond what anyone could imagine and now that all my sisters and brothers have children and live in their respective towns etc, we hardly ever get together let alone share christmas. I am pretty much the common link between everyone, as i don’t have kids i can get around and see them when i can. my dad died 6 years ago, mum hates christmas because dad died just before christmas. and some of my sisters can’t communicate because of ongoing issues with each other. all of this bothers me but i get along with everyone and i send everyone cards and gifts if i can. i enjoy it but i feel sad because i wish everyone could all just sit around the table and have a meal and get along. my family is the opposite to the whole togetherness thing and i wish it were different. so i do my own thing and send cards with long messages and sometimes a photo to everyone i know, people who mean a lot to me, cards to businesses i am grateful to for their friendly and helpful services, and those i haven’t seen in a while. every bit helps and i do like christmas. i just haven’t found a way to do christmas that makes me feel like its a meaningful family thing. i am grateful for my partner and his family, though. they have an amazing christmas tradition and i just spend it with them. so i feel lucky because of that.

    [Reply]

    Patricia Reply:

    Hi miss jodi, I am so sorry to hear of your dad dying 6 years ago. It is very hard when this happens, as it brings out the different personalities of the siblings and their vulnerabilities and any underlying tensions, which may have always been there, but do become magnified when someone close or parent dies. As everyone deals with it differently.

    This happened to me also, in March 2006 as my husband of 40 years died tragically which shocked us to the core!!!??? Maybe that is why I have this silent feeling inside and feel differently about everything now. I hate it that I feel this way about Christmas and other things etc.. I hate it how I feel about a lot of things now. But somehow it changes you inside and you know you have changed forever. I probably settle for simple now.

    I feel for you that you are longing for that family togetherness, which is not happening for you. But you are really doing a lovely thing by keeping in contact with everyone in the family. You can only do so much, and that is all you can do. How lovely you have a loving partner and his partner to share lovely times.

    I know in my own circumstances, the dynamics have changed within my family and there is more tension, but I feel I am the core of the family, and have to be so patient at times as I know what it must have done to them, losing their dad in such a shocking way. But it has been beyond difficult at times dealing with self centred personalities. I also have had to be patient with myself, and have allowed myself to embrace the everything I have felt, and not pushed it away, so as to heal in a good way.

    I do hope that day comes for you that you can share a meal around the table with family. Your mum must miss not being able to have everyone together to.
    The thing is you can’t take everyone’s issues on board as well. They will have to work those out themselves. Just keep doing as you are doing. It sounds as though you are trying hard.
    Wishing you peace this Christmas!!

    [Reply]

    Patricia Reply:

    Note: I did mean how lovely to have a loving partner and his ‘family’ to share lovely times :)

    [Reply]

  • erin

    Oh man, I love christmas! I love decorating, I love the food, I love the atmosphere when people are racing around to get presents, and I love sitting around the family room watching people open their presents. Even last year when it was stressful because it was at my house I loved it. Maybe its because when I was younger it was always so much fun. :-)
    Merry Christmas everyone!

    [Reply]

    picardie.girl Reply:

    Yes, maybe those of us who grew up with fun Christmases love it more than others? I love Christmas and always will.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.jacintafleur.com jacinta

    To buy gifts or not to buy gifts….Oh the stress and strain of first world problems eh!

    [Reply]

  • zumah

    Adam,thanks for the invite!

    Can we have a gratitude ceremony before we eat the reindeer?

    Oh wait,I don’t eat meat so there goes that idea.

    I’m not hating on Sarah.I think shes a good presenter and probably a nice person as well.
    I’m just pointing out some of the silly stuff people say in trying to promote themselves.Every good looking woman now also has to pretend shes some sort of high brow intellectual to feel good about herself.It just comes accross as forced and narcissistic.
    She has every right to make a living with the skills she has developed though.I just wish people would come out and say that rather than pretending they have some altruistic motive in mind.

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    Zumah, you’ve got to be a bloke.

    [Reply]

    miss jodi Reply:

    do you you keep everyone in check with this attitude, zumba? or is it just sarah wilson? if you do, it certainly must take a bunch of your time, as there seems to be a massive amount of hypocrisy around wherein there appears to be one rule for some, and totally another for certain others in the media landscape. i was going to write something in response to the actual post here, but when i read down to the last comment, i feel compelled to retort. so the christmas comment will have to wait.
    I’m sorry you feel this way that she comes across forced and narcissistic. she doesn’t to me at all, in fact to the majority of the regular readers of this blog, she is honest and philosophical, thoughtful and inspiring. more than anything she strikes a chord with a lot of folk and to others, provokes thought that may be out of someone’s comfort zone. she is a writer, and a presenter. she does not self promote or come across as anything other than herself. it is so easy to get onto these sites and comment within the attitude that we have the right to our opinions and that we should be heard. do we need an audience if we have a problem with someone? can you not put it into writing and actually send a letter to that person saying what it is that bothers you? it would seem the more courteous and polite approach to an issue one might have. we have a problem with something, air some dirty laundry and move on to the next thing. or you could read the post today. have a think about it tomorrow. sleep on it the next night. then if you feel the same way, ask yourself if you really need to write something. can you find something in it thats positive, and you have…..so try just contributing the positive things. maybe you find you will feel better about yourself. and don’t worry about what others do. just focus on yourself. actions speak way louder than words sometimes, and by saying some of the things you have said in this last comment and particularly the previous one as well, the only person you are really hurting is yourself. just smile, listen to some christmas carols, watch a christmas movie and have a lemonade. its christmas time. we should just be kind to one another and put the problems and irritations of the year behind us.

    [Reply]

    Jason Reply:

    Yep, let’s all listen to carols and have a lemonade!

    [Reply]

    Katie Reply:

    bahahah…love it Jason!

    Mel Reply:

    I know, why can’t Sarah just embrace being beautiful instead of pretending she has a brain. We all know brains and beauty are mutually exclusive. Stick to what you are good at Sarah; hosting. Forget your degrees and years of study and your heart and soul and that sometimes you opose yourself while trying to work out this life just like the rest of us.

    [Reply]

  • http://mrmathew1963.blogspot.com Mathew

    Christmas is what you make of it not what someone else expects it to be.
    To me it’s about showing love & understanding for each other & if that entails giving material gifts, that’s ok too. Just enjoy yourselves & each other in whatever you do. Lots of love & understanding from me this christams.

    [Reply]

  • Gray

    The comments on gift buying and giving are interesting. I love buying gifts for family and friends – for me it’s never been about spending alot of money (I don’t have it). It’s about finding something that suits the individual that they would not have thought to buy for themselves. I think I get as much pleasure out of the process, as I hope the person who receives the gift does. I’ve always shopped this way and never really realised that others didn’t until a few years ago when my mother was diagnosed with dementia. That Christmas she went shopping with my sister and they were gone for hours. On Christmas Day I opened my gift from her to find a beautiful ring. She said that she knew that she wasn’t ‘any good’ at buying presents and had always felt that her gifts lacked that special something could usually only think to but ”practical’ items. But now she was sick, while she was still capable of selecting something herself, she had wanted to get me a keepsake that I would always have.

    [Reply]

  • Gray

    …sorry I hit the wrong buttons. Anyway it wasn’t that Mum’s gifts weren’t great, just I think that they at times lacked whimsy. And sometimes I wondered if she’d bought them for some other daughter. Or perhaps just stood in a store in a panic and been persuaded by merchandising. So when cousin B presented me with the neon green and candy pink pottery vase last year for Christmas, accepted with understanding. Thankfully this year we are only doing presents for the kids!

    [Reply]

  • Mia Bluegirl
  • Tess

    I like Leo Babauta’s (of Zen Habits) approach: http://zenhabits.net/humbug/

    [Reply]

  • S

    I’d like to add my idea which I introduced into my large-ish family – second hand gifts. We don’t bother so much with gifts for adults, but our family has started taking on the challenge of finding kids’ presents in op shops – and I’ve made some pretty good finds and been able to afford presents which I couldn’t have afforded brand new. I’m sure the op shops would appreciate it too – they are often overflowing with toys and seem to struggle to get rid of them. Sooner or later kids get bored with whatever you give them, new or not, so I feel a bit better about not buying a brand new, plastic-y piece of junk which will inevitably be broken within a couple of months.

    PS – To find the last couple of presents needed after visiting all the local op shops, we stopped at a few garage sales, and that was my Xmas shopping all done, and I didn’t have to set foot in a shopping centre/mall.

    [Reply]

  • Akron

    But why, why, why cant I have gifts????? What is wrong with you people? I never ever had gifts in my childhood and teenage years so now that I am an a adult, I would hope I have friends and a bf who can afford to get me something…… why is it seen as wrong to want gifts????? it is perfectly normal! I WANT GIFTS!!!!

    p.s. dont be a hypocrit example, Gala Darling, suggest a “simplet Christmas” yet spends hers driking CHAMPAGNe which is insanely expensive and wearing a 399$ Armani dress ehich whe brags about in the same post as her “wish for a simpler Xmas”.

    get real.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.modelclubinc.com/blog/model-club-inc-news-for-2911/ Tangela

    I am sure this article has touched all the internet viewers, its really really fastidious piece of
    writing on building up new blog.

    [Reply]

  • http://eyeonwine.blogspot.com/2012/12/1855-first-growth-wine-dinner.html Jasmine

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much.

    I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped
    me.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.kompoloiclub.com/author/admin/ za

    It’s really a great and useful piece of info. I’m happy that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]