I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays. I love the festivities, decorations and parties. I love the book reading, cookie making, and hanging of lights. I love the anticipation of Santa's arrival. I love the smile on my children's faces on Christmas morning.
But the consumerism and materialism that comes along with it makes me feel pretty gross. And I am totally guilty of partaking. We will be giving our children gifts that are store bought (if only I knew how to knit legos!). Some of the gifts will be packaged in plastic. Some will be made in China or somewhere else that is likely not giving its employees a living wage. But my children will be bright-eyed when they open them and the magic of Christmas will make me forget about all of the social and environmental injustices that went into making those gifts.... at least temporarily.
Don't get me wrong-- I am conscious of my impact and try to reduce it--- buying toys locally when available, making gifts or buying from etsy, and reusing wrappings. But I feel like it's not enough. I am mentally making plans for ways to re-vamp our Christmas that will ease our burden on the Earth, without damping the joy for my children. I haven't quite figured out how to pull it off... yet...... but I do have some plans in the works for next year.
Anyways, the point of the post wasn't supposed to be a rant about the downsides of the holidays. I sat down this morning to write about how, despite all of the consumerism that surrounds the holidays, Todd and I make a point of emphasizing to our children that the holiday season is about giving and sharing what you have-- whether that is money, time or love. We typically give during the holidays by donating to others in need-- toys for tots, sending money to Heifer International, and donating to a family in need. We make our children aware of why we are helping, but there is a big disconnect-- sending a check in the mail doesn't mean a lot to a 7 year old. And yes, choosing and bringing a toy to a toy drive is great, but when they don't see who that toy is going to, I am not sure if it really sinks in.
So, this year, in addition to our regular donations, we borrowed an idea from a friend and decided to make care bags for homeless people. We purchased socks, hats, gloves, toothbrushes and some snacks. The kids divided everything up into gallon sized plastic bags and added a note that said "happy holidays". We decided to keep them in the car and when we see someone who is down on their luck, we can share ours. Finn enjoyed choosing what to put in the bags and assembling them. And after giving out our first bag a couple of days ago, he continued to talk about it for several hours afterwards.
Do you share your luck during the holidays? If you do, how? I would love to compile some more ideas that we could use for future holidays or throughout the year.
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