This year, the Dotytron and I decided that in lieu of buying people the stuff off their "list" (and keep in mind, my family sibling Secret Santa has a limit of SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS, plus what we buy for the parents, grandparents, and nieces, and nephews, and not including what we get for the Dotytron's side of the family), that we would put that money towards sponsoring a less fortunate family. Any extra money would be donated to Applegrove Community Complex, which hosts a drop-in centre that the Big Yam frequents with his daycare provider and offers lots of great services to new immigrants, etc. We're still going to buy presents for the little kids because I'm not so monstrous as to believe that Xmas isn't about children.
This accomplishes a few things: 1) it underscores the truly fun part about the holidays, which is really about eating cookies with your family and loved ones and seeing them and spending quality time together; 2) making us mindful of the rampant consumerism of our lives; 3) reducing the amount of misguided gifts that we often end up giving away. Let's be real: anything that I really really really want costs hundreds of dollars. I don't expect anyone to get that for me. I actually feel icky about the need to have a pile of presents on Xmas morning. It's weird and random to me.
Anyway, of course (of course!) my family is balking. Notably, my mum is balking. And somehow, in all of this, I'M GETTING TURNED INTO THE BAD GUY. Which is the most laughable part of the whole run down. Like I'm "ruining" the holidays. I'm not saying, don't do the family Secret Santa. I'm just saying, I'm not going to participate. It would be one thing if my family were also the sort to appreciate handmade presents - but they're not. I've seen jars of jam and barbecue sauce languishing on shelves in my mum's pantry for years and years. I've seen hand-knitted goods be worn once or twice and then never to be seen again. All of these things represent hours and hours of my labour, and they're not appreciated. No, STUFF is appreciated and that's the part that makes me feel icky. Because there is no more precious thing on this world than TIME and to not appreciate the time that it takes to make or craft something is truly, truly sad.
The other issue here is family autonomy. As generations grow, individual family units will start to make their own family traditions - separate and distinct from the previous generation's. That's okay and an important part of growing. My family didn't HAVE a holiday tradition growing up. Invariably, we were on a plane on Xmas. I think Big D bought us presents one year, and that was the year he first joined the family and was being all "cool stepfather trying to win over the brats he inherited" about things. My mum has never bought us birthday or Xmas presents growing up (I'd say, from the time I was born til about 23). It just wasn't our thing. I'm okay with that. It doesn't phase me. It just rankles that a new tradition is being presented as set in stone. Traditions grow and evolve and morph and change based on the people enacting them.
Anyway, this is my usual customary holiday rant to say: I'm sticking to my guns. In the same way that I think kids receiving piles of plastic, branded birthday presents is excessive, I'm saying the same about Xmas.
You know what I really want for Xmas? BABYSITTING VOUCHERS. YES, PLEASE!!! Or, let's go out to dinner. Or make a time where you buy me lunch or I buy you lunch. I want to sit and talk and eat good food and drink wine with you. That's what I want. I want to be able to have a night out with the Dotytron and not have it cost us double because we have to pay a babysitter. Give the gift of time and thoughtfulness. Give the gift of hanging out and building memories.
I know, I know. I'm such a pinko Mama Dread. I can't help it. It's even harder being a pinko, lefty, Mama Dread born in a family of POLAR OPPOSITES. But I will keep fighting the good fight! Water wears away the stone (although the stone might be me).
Sigh. I promise not to rant about Xmas any more. This has been freeing actually. I might still try to bang out some crafty projects, but we'll see how it goes.
Tomorrow is my day off! I have a pretty big slate of projects on deck. Namely:
- make a sweet potato pecan pie
- make baked brie lollipops with my home made quick puff pastry
- make two chocolate babka
- make and freeze rugelach (dough is already prepped)
- make fig pinwheel cookies
- make Little Big Cuz's birthday cake
- get a massage
- grocery shop
- work on my advent calendar
We'll see how it all goes down.
Tonight for dinner we had chickpea & kale falafels with pitas with store-bough bought baba ghanouj and tzatiki. Kale in falafels = amazing.