Heirloom Gardener Blogs > Barefoot and Dirty

New Christmas Traditions

Here it is, a week before Christmas. The tree is decorated. The cats are perpetually climbing it. The dogs are nosing all around it. My daughter is continually rearranging the presents underneath it. The whole house smells like Christmas baking. It’s a magical time of year.

Every family has their own traditions for Christmas. Some families are all about the presents. Some families are all about family. Many people over-extend themselves buying presents or stress themselves trying to entertain. This year, we made the decision to have a small, quiet, old-fashioned holiday to ourselves with zero stress and zero debt. It’s been an experimental process, but we’re enjoying it quite a bit.

Our son is away this year and won’t be able to make it home for the season, so his presents have been sent via the post office. That leaves just my husband, my daughter, and myself, along with our menagerie of cats, dogs, and chickens. Our first decision was to forego a big Christmas dinner. My husband was of the opinion that it isn’t fair for me to be cooking all day. I didn’t argue. Besides, with only the three of us, it doesn’t make much sense to have some huge feast that we would be eating until Valentine’s Day. So, snacks and favored finger foods will be the order of the day.

Next on the list of stresses was buying a bunch of presents. We aren’t terribly materialistic in the first place, but we decided not to hurt the bank account. Many of our presents are handmade. It’s tradition for me to make my daughter a doll for Christmas. I’ve made her one every year since she was born, and it’s the first present she looks for every year. This year, however, I took it a step further. I made her several new sets of clothes, her doll, a stuffed pink flannel flamingo, and some pillows decorated with some of her favorite characters.

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A pink flamingo made of soft flannel for snuggling

My husband is getting some new handmade flannel shirts. There will be some store-bought gifts, but not expensive ones, and certainly not as meaningful as homemade. The chickens are getting a new home for Christmas. We built them a sturdy new coop and painted it a lovely barn red with white trim. The dogs will likely get homemade Christmas treats, and the cats will get new toys made with homegrown catnip. Our friends and family will be receiving homemade gifts this year, as well, including hand-tied fleece blankets, gift baskets filled with our own jams, jellies, preserves, salsas, and relishes, or fresh baked goodies like cookies, breads, cupcakes, and miniature pies. Perhaps an assortment of Christmas cookies including thumbprints made with our cherry jam, peppermint sandwich creams made with our own mint extract, lemon stars made with lemons from our tree. We might give sets of wooden ornaments that we made from scraps from the new chicken coop. Certainly I have an assortment of dolls that I can give as gifts.

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Assorted handmade flower dolls: Daisy, Sunflower, Poinsettia

Christmas day itself will be stress-free for all of us. We will wake up, get dressed, and go see what Santa brought. The day will be spent leisurely, nibbling snacks, playing with new games and toys, checking out new books, watching new DVDs, true family time. There will be no rushing around, no hauling gifts and food, no traffic. We will spend the day quietly at home enjoying each other’s company, and isn’t that what the holiday is about, celebrating our loved ones and the time we spend together?

This is our holiday plan, and so far, it’s been perfect. I’ve spent considerable time sewing, painting and baking, but it’s been nothing like previous years when I’ve had to fight crowds of people out shopping. I’ve actually had fun creating things that my loved ones will enjoy. I’ve spent time baking old-fashioned traditional favorites as well as creating new favorites, and my husband and daughter have enjoyed their roles as test gerbils trying out new treats. As far as I can tell, this year will be the beginning of several new traditions. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season filled with blessings. Merry Christmas to you all.

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A set of snowflake ornaments made from scrap wood