Post, photography, and audio podcast by Rain San Martin
Rethink Holiday Traditions
The Holidays. Some see it as the most wonderful time of the year, while others may find it the most stressful. However, with intentional planning and culling of customs which no loner bring joy, a season of peace, enchantment and winter wonderment could be a hand. Over the last couple of years I have made many small yet powerful and bold steps toward the simplification of the season.
It all starts with Thanksgiving. Plan and shop for your ingredients well before the week leading up to the Day of Thanks. Though I have created the entire meal from scratch in years past, I find I can more fully appreciate this day by purchasing at least half of the meal pre-made or easy to put together. Most other meals throughout the year are made from scratch.
For simplicity and to ensure safe driving conditions we do not travel during the holidays. All road trip adventures occur during the warmer months.
Black Friday Shopping
As a principle I no longer participate in black Friday shopping! There was a simpler time when stores opened at their usual time, the day following Thanksgiving. Unhurried shoppers were simply in a festive and jovial spirit. Yet today Thanksgiving has grown into the new Black Friday. Retail workers are pulled away from the celebration to work in conditions exposing them to stampedes and inordinately stressful working environments. If more of the public makes their voices heard, shopping responsibly on alternate days, a new cultural awaking of mindfulness can arise on the holiday.
I have requested to no longer exchange gifts with family and friends. My husband and children still continue in this tradition however with the grandparents. We also give a reasonable sized gift to the children. Because we give a monthly tithe of all our income, the spirit of giving is met throughout the year. We also donate our time on occasion to meaningful work.
Rather than sending a batch of Holiday cards, I write 1-2 personal letters, cards or postcards per month! Not only does this save a tremendous amount of time, the customized writings allow for reflection, creativity, and deeper sharing.
Eat Only Until Full
Have temperance when eating meals. There is never a reason one should overeat. It harms the body, leading to weight and health woes. At Thanksgiving or during a Christmas meal eat with extra care. I myself have a light breakfast, one reasonable serving of the meal, then wait a few hours before having pie and eggnog as my last meal of the day. As you see there are no seconds, and pie is not eaten on a full stomach. Chai Tea and an orange are eaten a bit later. I do not drink alcohol, yet if you do, take heed to the wisdom of temperance.
"Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." (Proverbs 23:20-21)
Enjoy the Season
Rather than pop-culture Christmas themes, I focus on creating a Rustic Winter retreat. Gathered pine cones and evergreens lay across the mantle. Classic white lights and a wreath welcome at the entrance. LED taper candles glow ambiently in window sills. These we will keep up all winter long. A welcoming lift in the darker days ahead. Because I have dramatically simplified the season I've had time to bake seasonal treats like pumpkin cheesecake and cinnamon rolls from scratch. I can enjoy classical music, make a gingerbread house, or visit a historic home decorated for the occasion. Yet now there is a playful freedom to enjoy the wonderment of winter. After the holidays the season of winter magic continues.