Wednesday, December 21, 2005

and update on us

So, I haven't blogged much lately. I suppose that's because my life has been pretty much consumed with getting this house ready to be lived in, and ready for company on Christmas, and getting Christmas presents and all that. And I really don't like reading blogs that are just lists of what someone did. But I will tell a bit about our ideas of Christmas this year, because I think we've hit on something cool.

Paul and I both felt this year, coming up on Christmas, a sense of dread of going out and joining the Christmas throngs, to buy, buy, buy more stuff. As Paul said, we try not to shop the big chain department stores the rest of the year; why would we want to at Christmas? The desire to simplify was in both of us. Also: why buy gifts for people who are not going to use them anyway, for whatever reason. You don't know them well enough to buy for them, you don't have the same tastes as them, etc. What's the point?

I suppose it's the same non-conformity that we felt when we first got married, though I admit to some overzealousness. ;-) We felt that Christmas trees were completely pagan in origin (true) and we would only focus on Jesus' birth, as that's what Christmas is about. So, we did not get a Christmas tree. Instead, we made a manger. You read that right. It was probably 4 feet across and 3 feet high. We made a manger out of interlocking 2X4s and then we bought some hay to put in it. That's what we put our presents under. Man, oh man, we were zealots, but of the sincere sort. No more messy than a Christmas tree, but without the nice scent.

Anyway, back to the, uh, present. We sat down with the kids and hammered out some principles. One applies only to the immediate family: only one gift each. Each member of the family will receive one gift from the rest of the family. The other principles we will stick to as much as possible for every gift we buy: it will be made locally, in Portland, by a real person and not in a factory, and that person will be fairly paid, and hopefully we can even forge a relationship with that person as we are buying the item from him/her, so that we actually know the person our goods came from.

By the way, I actually got an email from the coffee folks I blogged about on Dec. 11! The guy was googling "family coffee portland" and found my blog, where I'd mentioned them! Now there's a relationship with my coffee grower. :-)

I have to say that Portland is a great city to live in to do what we want to do for Christmas, because it's a very artsy kind of a place. I got lots of recommendations for the Portland Saturday Market, and I went last Saturday, braving the *very cold weather*. But it was worth it--a huge market full of hand-made things, beautiful things, things of lasting value. Just what we were looking for.

I have to say one thing about my kids. They are cool. They so *got* this idea. They didn't just go along with it because they have weird parents, much less throw a tantrum or pout or anything like that. The only thing that needed to be cleared up came from Zac. He agreed to all this with tears dripping down his face. We asked him what was up--did he not want to do this? Is this because you won't get the erector set you wanted? No, it wasn't that. Oh--is it because you wanted to give everyone a gift just from you? Yes! He'd made gifts for all of us. So, we quickly amended the principle to say that if you make them yourself, you can give as many gifts as you want!

And then it snowed on Sunday! My kids just loved it. Well, we all did. I enjoyed just watching it out the window. And we were very surprised, but pleasantly so, that the dinner we were to go to on Sunday night was postponed. Postponed over a little snow?!? We've lived in Boston, and this was NOT the kind of snow you postpone stuff for....but apparently in Portland it is. Then again, they don't have the wherewithall to plow all the streets, only the major ones. So it's not as easy to get around as in Boston after a snow. But we were happy to stay at home and enjoy it.

I'm sure that'll be my last blog post before Christmas, so I'll say it now: Blessed Nativity to all who celebrate!


Mimi said...

Oh yes, the light dusting of snow that makes the city grind to a halt! Bwahahahaahahahhaa! Welcome to the Northwest!

Dh and I had some rows about Christmas trees in our early marriage too, love the manger, giggle!

Christ is Born!

Molly said...

What a wonderful and heartfelt tradition for your family; I love this story. Blessed Nativity to you all!