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A Mindful Christmas

christmas cookies and decorationsI can’t believe it is nearly Christmas – (is what I thought when I started seeing decorations and sales three months ago) – but now it really, nearly is!

Christmas for many cultures around the world is an exciting time to come together and celebrate, whether it be socially, gustation-ally, spiritually or otherwise, many of us get caught up in the festivities, the hype and dare I say it the presents!

Totally guilty here. I still remember the feeling of going to bed on Christmas night as a kid and being so giddy with excitement I couldn’t sleep. And now as a parent a certain amount of that excitement I feel on behalf of my kids, hoping that they will feel the same pure joy and lifetime of good memories. The interesting thing though, as an adult, is to really think: what was it that I was excited about? What presents do I even remember? And if I’m honest I hardly remember anything physical about Christmas at all.

The thing I really truly remember is not what was in the presents but the emotion and excitement of sharing Christmas morning with my immediate family, and my cousins, and sharing a huge meal, which again is centred around the memory of the joy it brought the chefs and the family sharing their hard-work, not necessarily the food itself.

Fast forward several decades and I find myself in a time and world where I can’t help but consider so many other things. As parents now, we find ourselves looking for ways to maximise the Christmas joy that we felt, but to also take a new approach to Christmas which doesn’t see us contributing to needless landfill and commercialism which at the end of the day doesn’t give anything positive back to our world and/or our family.

So why are we thinking like this? Well for starters, you might have heard the news headline about how Australians will use over 150,000kms of wrapping paper this year alone (that’s enough to wrap around the equator almost four times) – imagine how many precious trees and resources are used for something so…well useless. And that is just Australia, and that doesn’t even speak of what’s inside the wrapping paper, the things we rarely remember and end up in landfill anyway. The plastic, oh the plastic, I don’t even know where to start with that. Now I’m not meaning to be a grinch, but after a lot of reflection and implementing some simple customs into our little family, I have realised that we can still have all the joy that we remember from our childhood, but also create something even more positive for our family, whilst having a minimal impact on our planet.

Our Simple Strategies are This:

  • A majority of the presents delivered by father Christmas at our house are up-cycled or secondhand – they don’t know the difference and it’s a great way to take someone else’s landfill and give it a new life
  • Anything new we do buy, we try to buy consciously and ethically, so it will have a long life cycle. Always prioritising local or handmade where possible.
  • Santa includes with our gifts a little note explaining why he is proud of them and their behaviour and why they deserved whatever it may have been. It’s a small quirky addition to tradition but the kids love the positive enforcement (as opposed to the negative, ‘don’t do that again or Father Christmas wont come!’)
  • In the month leading up to Christmas we make a point of trawling through our toy boxes and clothes and making a big donation to charities of things we no longer need or use – a great conversation to open their little minds as to how fortunate we are compared to others and how small acts of kindness can make a difference
  • We keep and wrap our presents in recycled wrapping, old newspapers and furoshiki wrapping
  • We minimise what Santa actually brings to our house, as in our family we have grandparents who can’t help themselves (sorry mum), so my theory is they may as well get the ‘best’ and most ‘exciting’ stuff from the people they know and love rather than an old fella they don’t know – that being said we are slowly working on tempering and training the grandparents ;)
  • We encourage our kids to ‘create’ or buy a gift for one another taking into account each-others interests and skills – and then we look we follow the same principles as above, hopefully instilling the a sense of giving with meaning whilst respecting our good fortune and our mother earth
  • We take the time to talk about how and why some people do and some people don’t celebrate like we do. Whether it be religion, finance, or any number of other reasons, we think it is nice for them to understand that this celebration is a choice, not necessarily a given
  • We try to emphasise the importance and excitement around hanging out with the whole family on Christmas day and what we can do to have fun together and create memories (rather than who got how many gifts what was the best etc)
  • Most importantly we take the time to give thanks (as we do every day of the year) for the things we have, and talk about … you guessed it… the best part of our day

Little changes like this can ultimately make a huge difference, and I can tell you for absolute certain that our kids are absolutely stoked with every Christmas they have ever had. We would love to know your thoughts, your family’s particular customs and traditions and any great tips or tricks you have for a more mindful Christmas!

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