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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 11-26-10, 01:48 PM   #1
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Suggestions for having a simple Holiday season?

I'd appreciate any ideas you've tried or heard about for simpler holidays.
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Old 11-26-10, 02:34 PM   #2
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Don't celebrate them?

I think it is all about personal attitude and choices, as well as not allowing other people to dictate what you are going to do or not do to celebrate the holidays.

We have been working towards getting away from the consumer gift frenzy and more towards the spirit of the holiday(s). This year we are giving donations to various charities in our family's name. The only people we have bought actual gifts for are a young nephew and two orphans at the local orphanage as part of our annual church support of that facility. We have also ponied up some cash to help my kids get home from Christmas, both are working in new jobs at entry level wages.

Aaron
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Old 11-26-10, 04:14 PM   #3
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The best way to celebrate any holiday, be it personal (like my birthday today that my family seems to forgotten), and/or regionally or globally (end to the beginning of the year Holidays) is to celebrate it simply. I have been monitoring my computer & television for the latest images of the mass frenzy of greed that starts about now on Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving-the last Thursday of November to non-US residents) continuing to Cyber Monday all the way to December 25.

See Shoppers Lose Their Minds Locally In The So. Cal. Area:
http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=7810866
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-thanksgiving-shopping-20101126,0,2596253.story
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-fi-black-friday-20101116,0,7659598.story
http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=7810421

I do ask myself if people really believe that we are still right smack in the middle of hard times. I guess not based on the above. But in any case, perhaps it is best to think about how our parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents (depending on your age) did during the Great Depression of the 1930s and even on to World War II with the extreme rationing that occurred for several years even after the depression. They learned to make do with what they have. They created things out of the materials at hand. That is something that the present formal and informal educational system (loss of Shop/Home Economics classes in favor of computer classes & store bought products), and even within most family units (not able to use a conventional oven vs. microwave one or take-out all the time) seem to lose over the years.

Whatever the case may be, I will continue to celebrate the holidays very much like my own elders did back then. And keep whatever is left of my sanity.

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Old 11-26-10, 05:12 PM   #4
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I do ask myself if people really believe that we are still right smack in the middle of hard times. I guess not based on the above.
I'm guessing that a lot of it is denial with a healthy dose of greed.
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Old 11-26-10, 07:34 PM   #5
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Happy birthday, folder fanatic!
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Old 11-26-10, 07:36 PM   #6
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Don't celebrate them?

I think it is all about personal attitude and choices, as well as not allowing other people to dictate what you are going to do or not do to celebrate the holidays.

We have been working towards getting away from the consumer gift frenzy and more towards the spirit of the holiday(s). This year we are giving donations to various charities in our family's name. The only people we have bought actual gifts for are a young nephew and two orphans at the local orphanage as part of our annual church support of that facility. We have also ponied up some cash to help my kids get home from Christmas, both are working in new jobs at entry level wages.

Aaron
I know, but giving gifts also makes me happy. Do I have to give it up in order to have a simple Christmas?
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Old 11-26-10, 08:03 PM   #7
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I know, but giving gifts also makes me happy. Do I have to give it up in order to have a simple Christmas?
Nope. It's all a matter of degree. Giving and sharing is good. Getting into debt, shoving life into the background so that you can shop intensively those rob the joy from the season. It's all on what you can afford and want to do. God loves a cheerful giver. If giving is causing you stress, that's a warning.

Some years, my entire christmas budget was $10.00. One year, everyone else was poor and the family had decided to not exchange gifts among adults, but it was my first good year and I had the money to spend, so my niece and nephew got a real good visit from Santa, including my niece's first bicycle. Another year, my ex and I went through Toys R Us and filled up a shopping cart each, she bought for girls, I bought for boys. We then went outside and dropped them off in a Toys for Tots bin. The Marine on guard was quite surprised as apparently most people were giving at a big event at the local sports center. So he was delighted to have his bin fill itself up so magically.

I don't think it's the giving that makes things complex. In many cases it's the tertiary activities. A christmas tree is unneeded, but it can be nice. Decorating your house is also unneeded but it does make the long dark nights a little nicer. In Iceland they leave the Christmas decorations up through February for that reason.

And making your house the most decorated house on the block is definitely way beyond simple. But I've known several men who couldn't live without making their house visible from space. I lived next door to one, and blessed him every year. His display was so elaborate that I couldn't even attempt to compete so I didn't. A strip of lights was the most my ex could get me to do. Though I discovered that the best thing was to put the lights in the orange tree, the fresh oranges provided the ornaments, and the lights kept things from freezing on the coldest nights. So that kept things simple. Especially as I could give fresh organic oranges as Christmas gifts.

This year, I haven't decided what to do. But odds are it will be a quiet holiday.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

Last edited by Artkansas; 11-26-10 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 11-26-10, 11:23 PM   #8
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We've had slimmed down Christmases quite a bit over the years and I like it much, much more. I don't have many gifts to give and my budget is tight, resulting in many homemade gifts of food and knitted things. I'll look for neat things like interesting change purses for my best friend or a reusable hot drink cuff for the coffee freak in my life. But I won't necessarily be buying anyone a big ticket item -- although if I can, I will contribute to a special group gift.

Decorating is way more fun when I make ornaments or making a wreath out of collected plastic bags and a metal hanger. If you still can, collect pine cones and make a table centre piece. This year I'm filling a clear milk bottle with red and green marbles and sticking silk (or at least silk like) flowers into the marble filled vase. Oh yeh -- the cat will need to put much more effort into knocking it over, compared to my lovely vase filled with layers of red and green jello with silk like flowers!

Baking is by far my favourite part of Christmas! Not only eating the goodies but sharing the treats is even better. Last year I gave the staff at my local postal station a large box of chocolate chip cookies and they thanked me with a lovely note tucked in my post box. I'm making shortbread cookies for them as well this year.
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Old 11-27-10, 06:41 AM   #9
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I know, but giving gifts also makes me happy. Do I have to give it up in order to have a simple Christmas?
Absolutely not!

I enjoy giving too and I don't do it just at Christmas. What I don't like is being told it has to be a certain item, or have it turn into a competition. Another aspect that is harder for me is to have a well meaning person give me something that I absolutely don't need, whether they do it out of "duty" or well meaning. As they say it is the thought that counts. I have also found that the gift of time spent with someone, perhaps buying them lunch, or giving them a hand with a favorite project is worth more than all the material presents in the world.

We (as a family) have been moving away from the crass commercialism. We do give gifts on birthdays. My 77 year old father got a bottle of Scotch this year that was brought back from Scotland and is not available in the US. That was a gift we knew he would enjoy and was not particular pricey. We try to buy things that people need or will enjoy, not what the advertising people tell us we should buy.

To me Christmas should be more about giving to people that are really in need. We support a variety of charities year round, but try to make a special effort at Christmas. A few of my favorites: Nehemiah Project (as well as the parent Urban Ministry), Heifer International, Bikes not Bombs, The Bicycle Man, Bicycle Ambulance, and many more. We try to split our funds between local and global.

The US has more than double the amount of retail space per capita than any other country in the world, it is unsustainable. Also retail jobs are in among the lowest paid. Not something I want to support.

Aaron
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Old 11-27-10, 02:53 PM   #10
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The simplest holiday I know of is having it without family, no drama ! Teleconference a few greetings from a warm beach some where.
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Old 11-27-10, 03:55 PM   #11
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Some local bike clubs organize rides through the local light displays.
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Old 11-27-10, 04:03 PM   #12
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Hello Roody: Many years my wife has baked a lot of our presents. One year we went out on the evening of Christmas day and found a tree on the corner--someone had already finished with it--brought it home, and kept it for as long as we felt inclined. After all, Christmas lasts 12 days, and December 25th is the first of them.
I also like writing Christmas cards after the 25th, so that I can enjoy doing it instead of feeling rushed. And making music with my family and friends has always been a big part of Christmas for us.
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Old 11-27-10, 09:47 PM   #13
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Happy birthday, folder fanatic!
Thank you for remembering. While my family still has not remembered for some reason (perhaps as we are all past 50 here now and birthdays signify too much the passing of the years-I am beginning to understand that feeling now), my 80+ year old mother finally remembered. I decided not to rub it in with them if that is the case.

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We've had slimmed down Christmases quite a bit over the years and I like it much, much more. I don't have many gifts to give and my budget is tight, resulting in many homemade gifts of food and knitted things. I'll look for neat things like interesting change purses for my best friend or a reusable hot drink cuff for the coffee freak in my life. But I won't necessarily be buying anyone a big ticket item -- although if I can, I will contribute to a special group gift.

Decorating is way more fun when I make ornaments or making a wreath out of collected plastic bags and a metal hanger. If you still can, collect pine cones and make a table centre piece. This year I'm filling a clear milk bottle with red and green marbles and sticking silk (or at least silk like) flowers into the marble filled vase. Oh yeh -- the cat will need to put much more effort into knocking it over, compared to my lovely vase filled with layers of red and green jello with silk like flowers!

Baking is by far my favourite part of Christmas! Not only eating the goodies but sharing the treats is even better. Last year I gave the staff at my local postal station a large box of chocolate chip cookies and they thanked me with a lovely note tucked in my post box. I'm making shortbread cookies for them as well this year.
I have been resorting to more likely sewing many products over the years for gift giving-especially for limits of smaller amounts of money as in workplace parties. I find that using a bit of remnant fabric goes a long way.

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The simplest holiday I know of is having it without family, no drama ! Teleconference a few greetings from a warm beach some where.
My sister's favorite way of dealing with the Holiday season-traveling afar.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 11-27-10 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 11-28-10, 01:10 AM   #14
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Christmas became a great deal simpler when I decided to quit celebrating it. I actually enjoy the season now, and I'd hated it previously, even as a kid. But it wasn't just the pressure to spend crazy amounts of money and the masses of cranky shoppers that motivated me to stop observing the holiday. I'd always felt a bit ludicrous as a non-Christian celebrating a Christian holiday.

These days I just mark the winter solstice and take a moment to reflect on the passage of seasons and the great cycle. It's fun to see the big displays of lights with some friends too. Usually I make a nice meal or have a party with some festive snacks on December 24th. I've been to a few really big parties on December 25th as well; there are an amazing number of people out there who don't really do Christmas and will happily go to a party that day.
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Old 11-28-10, 11:12 AM   #15
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I'd always felt a bit ludicrous as a non-Christian celebrating a Christian holiday.
Agreed. Though for me it was always a family holiday, and with Santa there is a strong non-christian element as well.

In addition to winter solstice, I also celebrate Buddha's Enlightenment Day or Bodhi Day on December 8.
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Old 11-29-10, 05:44 PM   #16
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Some local bike clubs organize rides through the local light displays.
This is a holiday tradition of mine. I ride with friends all over the city on Christmas Eve to look at the lights. One year we ended up at a Midnight Service, which was a nice touch.

(Your earlier, longer post gave me a lot to think about also. Thanks!)
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Old 11-29-10, 05:48 PM   #17
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Christmas became a great deal simpler when I decided to quit celebrating it. I actually enjoy the season now, and I'd hated it previously, even as a kid. But it wasn't just the pressure to spend crazy amounts of money and the masses of cranky shoppers that motivated me to stop observing the holiday. I'd always felt a bit ludicrous as a non-Christian celebrating a Christian holiday.

These days I just mark the winter solstice and take a moment to reflect on the passage of seasons and the great cycle. It's fun to see the big displays of lights with some friends too. Usually I make a nice meal or have a party with some festive snacks on December 24th. I've been to a few really big parties on December 25th as well; there are an amazing number of people out there who don't really do Christmas and will happily go to a party that day.
I have tried some of these in the past. also, for several years I sent New Year's cards instead of Christmas cards. I like observing the holidays of other cultures, but it finally occurred to me that I really feel most comfortable with my own culture Now I try to make Christmas spiritual but not too religious, if you know what I mean.
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Old 11-29-10, 07:49 PM   #18
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Baking is by far my favourite part of Christmas! Not only eating the goodies but sharing the treats is even better. Last year I gave the staff at my local postal station a large box of chocolate chip cookies and they thanked me with a lovely note tucked in my post box. I'm making shortbread cookies for them as well this year.
I'd vote for this, except that many of my relative, colleagues and friends (myself included) need a chocolate chip cookie like they need a hole in the head.
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Old 11-30-10, 01:24 PM   #19
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If (like me) you feel compelled to give something to family members but don't want to buy a bunch of junk nobody needs, try some home canned or baked goods, homebrewed beer, or make a donation to the person's favorite charity. No need to say how much you donated--a lot of places you can donate as little as $10 and get a printable card to give to the "recipient." Or just make your own card saying you made a donation to X charity in their honor.
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Old 11-30-10, 01:36 PM   #20
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If (like me) you feel compelled to give something to family members but don't want to buy a bunch of junk nobody needs, try some home canned or baked goods, homebrewed beer, or make a donation to the person's favorite charity. No need to say how much you donated--a lot of places you can donate as little as $10 and get a printable card to give to the "recipient." Or just make your own card saying you made a donation to X charity in their honor.
I have given gifts of home canning several times. It's something I enjoy making and it also is something that cannot be bought in stores. I feel as if I'm giving a part of myself when I do this.
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Old 11-30-10, 01:57 PM   #21
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In addition to winter solstice, I also celebrate Buddha's Enlightenment Day or Bodhi Day on December 8.
Non-Christians are welcome to celebrate my birthday, which falls on the winter solstice. But you do have to worship me for bringing about the return of the sun.
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Old 11-30-10, 03:24 PM   #22
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This Saturday I will be leading a motley group of cyclists riding in the Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade.

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Old 11-30-10, 03:52 PM   #23
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Christmas became a great deal simpler when I decided to quit celebrating it. I actually enjoy the season now, and I'd hated it previously, even as a kid. But it wasn't just the pressure to spend crazy amounts of money and the masses of cranky shoppers that motivated me to stop observing the holiday. I'd always felt a bit ludicrous as a non-Christian celebrating a Christian holiday.

These days I just mark the winter solstice and take a moment to reflect on the passage of seasons and the great cycle. It's fun to see the big displays of lights with some friends too. Usually I make a nice meal or have a party with some festive snacks on December 24th. I've been to a few really big parties on December 25th as well; there are an amazing number of people out there who don't really do Christmas and will happily go to a party that day.
I feel for you. I thought that moving to Korea would free from from having to deal with Christmas and its stupidly high spending. However, I always seem to end up with a girl friend at this time of year and Korean girls are an odd bunch. For example, last year I didn't know that, while families do not celebrate Christmas here (mostly Buddhist or non-religious country) Korean couples do. I showed up to a small Christmas dinner to meet some friends and my girl friend came by with at least $100 worth of gifts for me. I had nothing... Big mistake. I ended up taking her on a trip to Jeju island (Korean Hawaii), which I don't mind spending money on so much but I would have rather not had her buy me anything at all. It seems I can't escape Christmas even in East Asia!
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Old 11-30-10, 03:55 PM   #24
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Yeah, I had a Japanese friend. She told me that Christmas was very big in Japan as well. Lots of presents and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
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Old 11-30-10, 04:52 PM   #25
sauerwald
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poormanbiking View Post
The simplest holiday I know of is having it without family, no drama ! Teleconference a few greetings from a warm beach some where.
On the other end of the spectrum.....

For my family, Thanksgiving has always been the biggest holiday of the year. We always have a large extended family gathering, and usually have others who are brought in as well. This year we had 26 at the thanksgiving table, spanning 4 generations. My parents have always hosted, and have one of the rare houses (and dining tables) which can accommodate a crowd like this, but they are getting on in years (80s) and their health is declining. This year, my mother seemed overwhelmed by the excesses of the gathering. Everybody feels obligated to bring something to contribute to the meal, which means that there are just too many dishes there, and many people brought things that needed to be popped into the oven to be warmed or cooked. My sibs and I got together after the fact this year and talked about how we could simplify the gathering to make it easier on our parents, and some of the ideas that we came up with were:

1) Limiting guests to bringing beverages.
2) Hiring students from the local university who have nowhere to go for T-day to come, join us for dinner, and help clean up afterwards.
3) Serving a meal with fewer options - no ham and turkey, if one turkey isn't going to be enough, we will do two turkeys. No need for four different potato options, or five green veggies.
4) We (the second generation who are all in our 40s and 50s) will come to the house the day before for a cleaning and prepping party.

Poormanbiking - want to come over for thanksgiving dinner next year? Perhaps we could teleconference you some pie
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