As each year passes, I find myself questioning the traditions of the modern Holiday season more and more. Why does this frantic energy start in October for 1 single day? (Hello, global Consumerism) Why are people so stressed out financially, emotionally and obsessed with time? (Do you actually enjoy feeling so stressed out this time of year?) Why do we work extra hours to be able to afford ridiculously priced holidays, toys, gaming systems, alcohol and indulgent foods. (All of these things are escapist and distraction culture -- once you are awake to this it is hard to go back to sleep).
Why do we normalize sweet junk foods and indulgence for our kids, instead of normalizing the seasonal wealth of wholesome foods available at the markets. My daughter gets so excited to see Mango's and Lychees come into season each year, this is a treat for her.
Why do we normalize an elf who 'watches' our children for naughty behavior (and in the midst of all this crazy, the kid will inevitably have a meltdown and we make threats to tell the man in red if they don't conform to good behavior). Why do we feel the need to theme entire Christmas trees each year (who does this, actually??) So many questions. As the years go on, this noise gets louder, until finally this year I have said enough. It took a generation to condition me to what we 'should' do for the holiday season, so it may take me a few years to rewrite this tradition in a way that is wholesome and works for my family, but here are some ideas to get you started if you are in similar thinking to me. Many families have been hit hard with financials this year, it is always a hard time of year if you buy into the craze of buy buy buy, spend spend spend, but it doesn't have to be this way. My daughter cannot eat chocolate or dairy, we still wanted the magic of an advent calendar so I created our own. I themed it around 4 realms; Mineral, Plant, Animal and Humanfolk. Including nature treasures, Art Games + Activities I created and original mini artworks I made.
I used wool and did a wet felting technique. I still love a holiday tree, but ours tells a story with decorations. I have vintage ones from my childhood, heaps of homemade and others from our travels so I wanted to keep the symbolism of the tree on this advent calendar but you can do any image. On the other side, I made 25 felt pockets. The first 6 days is in the Mineral Realm. We light a candle and say a verse for the Mineral Realm. Each pocket had a nature treasure from the Mineral Realm - my daughter just loves nature treasures so this was a special treat for her. Shells, bones, crystals, rocks and a family scavenger hunt I created. The following 6 days we lit a 2nd candle and said a verse for the Plant Realm. Each pocket had either a plant cutting, flower, seed pod, lychee and a family art game I created. The next 6 days we lit a 3rd candle and said a verse for the Animal Realm. Each pocket had either a feather, mini animal folklore paintings I made, a little Art Game I created and a little clay animal figure I made. The last 6 days we lit a 4th candle and said a verse for the Humanfolk Realm. Each pocket had either random acts of kindness, a little art activity and the last 2 pockets had a mini figure Gnome and Fairy that I commissioned a local artist to create for a secret garden we are creating for our Daughter.
This has been such a beautiful way to celebrate the seasonal flora and fauna and to connect as a family around natural elements. Not cheap plastic wasteful toys that are played with for 3 minutes then discarded.
The tiny Gnome created by a local sculpture artist. I created a Gnome door from upcycled wooden coasters no longer in use. Using paint pens, paint and moss.
One of the hand-painted mini pictures I created for some Animal Folklore for the Animal Realm.
Candles we created using coloured beeswax. Perfect for a home made gift or your own Advent candle.
Homemade wrapping paper we created to wrap other homemade gifts in.
I hope to create more homemade, sustainable and wholesome traditions over the next couple of years - what are some of your wholesome traditions you do as a family? I would love to hear how you celebrate when you say #notoconsumerism With Love,