Christmas Holiday Values

After my experience last week of Black Friday and Cyber week I realised that for me the true spirit of Christmas is being overshadowed by the material consumerism. I decided to take some time and think about (a) how to bring about my child-like wonder and magic of Christmas, and (b) the true meaning of Christmas and the values it brings to the time of year.

I feel that now that I have my own family I needed to have some guidelines to follow. I didn’t want the true Christmas message to disappear and so I created a Christmas holiday values manifesto that I will pull out each year. The list will be something we can refer to as a family when the children are older. For now they would be held by myself and my husband.

Our Christmas Holiday values manifesto 

We will make Christmas meaningful and about more than material gifts and treats. We will teach our children the true meaning of Christmas as well as the spiritual values that we have around this time. With the hectic pace of everyday life Christmas will be a time where we slow down, unwind and appreciate what we have in our lives.

We will acknowledge that the importance of family, friends, giving and gratitude, and caring about the world around us is the biggest gift that we as parents can give our children.

We will also:

Share the true message – The story of Jesus’s birth, retelling the story and having festive decorations and ornaments that symbolise the Christmas story: a nativity set, books with the Christmas story. We will do this so that we remember the essence of the Christmas story.

Spending time together as a family  – Not booking in too much; keeping it simple; share the reasons why we love each other and value each other; have fun together by playing games and watching movies; have more relaxation, and take time to eat together as a family and go out together as a family over this holiday period.

Teaching and practicing gratitude –  Take time to appreciate all that we have; share what we are grateful for, not just at Christmas but throughout the year. Inspire our children to be thankful for all the wonderful gifts they have received at this time and also to be thankful for the non-material gifts they are blessed with such as family and friends.

Spread Christmas joy with Random acts of kindness – Practice giving and sharing with people we know and don’t know, to our friends and charities that give to people in need. Make an effort to appreciate friends and family not just through gifts but thoughtful acts.

Slow and simple – Decrease stress and Christmas anxiety by remembering to stop, pause, and breathe. Let us appreciate the simple things in life and slow down and take stock of what the values of Christmas are all about.

What family values do you wish to share at Christmas time? The website I used to get organised last year and which has a guide to help each year to keep your values in check is  Organised Christmas.

Here are some questions from their worksheet:

What values will your family’s celebration serve? Bring the season into focus by answering these questions about last year’s events. Use a second sheet to record responses from a family meeting.

1. What went well for your family last year? Did you make innovations that made you more organized, calmer, and more centered?

2. What stresses did your family face? Were there too many activities on the calendar? Did household systems fall apart with the season’s faster pace?

3. Was your family spiritually invigorated by the holiday celebration? Did you participate in appropriate service, worship or giving activities?

4. Did inappropriate influences enter your home? Were decorating, clothing or gift-buying decisions motivated by competitiveness or insecurity? Was the celebration over-focused on gifts and getting? Did the hectic pace of the season take precedence over family closeness, family values?

5. What would you have done differently?

Next time I will be looking at the Christmas holiday traditions we have and would like to focus on. These new traditions will be created from our heart and carried forward each year bringing a sense of meaning and spirituality that can often get lost in the external  pressures of Christmas.

Black Friday

I have been totally distracted over the last week. I guess you could call it my pre-Christmas overload. I had believed I had learned from my previous Christmas mistakes of leaving things to the last minute and getting stressed and burned out by Christmas Day. I had vowed to start getting myself organised around Halloween in order to take it all in my stride. But instead I got completely sidetracked by the new phenomenon of ‘Black Friday’.

At first Black Friday was all about the great gifts I would buy for others. It was the last week of November and I felt a sudden panic that it was nearly a month after Halloween, and I still hadn’t started my Christmas preparations. I also feared I was going to miss my window of opportunity to ‘bag’ a great deal.

By Tuesday of last week it seemed that there were so many bargains that I couldn’t keep up. I started to write down all that we might need so that we wouldn’t miss out on the ‘bargain of a lifetime.’ From 15% off here, to 20% off there, and up to 50% off high price items, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. My head was awash with products that I wanted, needed, or might want or might need, and of cause not forgetting the Christmas gifts that I could buy for all those friends and relatives. It was in hindsight totally addictive.

I spent hours on the internet searching various high street department stores, designer brands, and my favourite online only stores. From homeware, makeup, to kids clothing, I had to cover all my bases. Finally on the Saturday night the high of my Black Friday madness started to fade and I started to come down. I began to get annoyed with my husband, frustrated he was not getting on board with the Black Friday fever. I’d started bombarding him with questions “Peter, what clothes do you need at the moment? Peter what you need is some… or Peter have you ordered anything yet?” My frustration was with his lack of motivation and urgency.

By Sunday I was totally washed out and with little to show for all my efforts. Mostly the hype was ‘to good to be true’ and there was nothing that was the ‘deal of the year’.

Finally I said to myself ‘never again will I be suckered into this sickening mass-consumerism’ and today I woke up thinking; ‘Yes it is over!’. But no: I awoke to the news that it was now ‘Cyber Monday’ and I spent the day holding myself back from searching out for the last final offers of this exhausting and endless retail sales marathon.

By 8pm the emails were still rolling in, with retailers trying to entice me with headers such as ‘Tick tock. Have you seen our cyber savings?’

I felt that it had to be the end of the last offers. The onslaught of advertising had to end today. But we shall see what tomorrow brings.

I never used to be this way, I used to hate sales. I think it could be since having the large expense of kids that has changed my ways. Or maybe I have inherited this habit from my Mum, she loves sales and rummaging about for deals. I go in her house and she has mountains of products that were 3 for 2 and wardrobes filled with bargains that she has never worn. I never wanted to be that person. I want quality over quantity, and to buy only things I truly love. But I also know that I do not want to be paying over the odds for something. I now just can’t purchase anything without googling for voucher codes. I suppose it is just getting the right balance.

Prior to the onslaught of emails and TV radio and banner adds I had been looking forward to organising a new tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving in my household and teaching the children about gratitude.  In fact, I had begun to prepare a blog post telling you about my ideas and enthusiasm to adopt Thanksgiving for the values it could instil before Christmas. Unfortunately my plans got overridden by various household duties, unwell children and the biggest distraction of all “BLACK FRIDAY.”

Please return here next year and I promise you I will have my priorities straight.