I'm inspired

You all inspire me so much. Judging by the response to my last post, it sounds like a lot of us have been thinking about many of the same things. And so many of you had such concrete suggestions about simplifying the madness of the holidays. I think it's important to take this energy and motivation that we feel when something awful happens, or when things seem to have gotten out of control, and channel it positively in our own homes and families rather than allowing ourselves to become too gloomy about the state of the world.

I'm feeling so invigorated by so many of the comments you left. Several of you left links to Advent Conspiracy, which is an organization that encourages people to simplify the holidays in small ways -- and also works to bring clean water around the world. (Definitely worth checking out their site -- it's so beautifully done, my pregnant self even cried a little.) Lynn's point that small traditions are remembered more fondly than most any gift (even the really amazing toys that the mama herself had been coveting) was so well put, and I was impressed by how many of you are committing to "experience" gifts -- Heather gave the example of concerts and plays, which also benefits the local community. And many, many of you are committing to giving fewer material gifts, or increasing the number of handmade gifts that you give. I loved that so many of you were talking about moderation and meaning in your gift buying. I am truly, truly excited and inspired. Thank you!

For the record, I'm not morally opposed to store-bought gifts, gift-giving in general, or bargains -- I just think that it's better to have a reason for buying something rather than buying things up simply because they're cheap, or worse, out of a crushing sense of obligation. So often we think we are required to spend a certain amount, or give a certain number of gifts, to family and friends. As Deb pointed out, this season really shouldn't be about getting or even giving -- but about celebrating with those we love. (And, after moving this year, I have to say, the one thing my little family needs is less stuff, so we're definitely trying to keep it very small this year.)

Even our children need less gifts than we sometimes think. I know that mine get very overwhelmed when they have too many gifts to unwrap at one time. The other day my very, very wise friend Meghan observed that, when it comes to children, we should always remember two words: Simple. Less. How true this is -- and how hard a lesson for us adults to learn!

making a little gift

As with all things, I'm finding once again that following the lead of my own little elf is the way to go. She always has a little gift to make ("Mama, I just need to use some of your fabric for a little handsewing project," or "How do you spell ____? I'm making a picture for Daddy's Christmas present."), a little bit of singing to be done in her high, high little voice, or a little bit of browsing through this month's Martha, carefully determining which cookies we should try this year. Those are the things that Christmas is really made of -- not what gifts eventually present themselves under the tree on the 24th.

And now we're back to pretty pictures from me. ;)