Slow Christmas: Fighting Holiday Commercialism

December 2nd, 2008

With the holiday season now in full swing, it seems parents everywhere are asking, “How can I make Christmas more meaningful?”

Taking away the focus on crass materialism has never seemed more important, especially now when so many families are suffering in the economic downturn.

For the next few weeks, in addition to posting periodically about alternative gifts, “green gifts” that help the planet and help green entrepreneurs, and experiential gifts, I’ll also post about rediscovering Christmas traditions that bring meaning back to the holiday season.

Take Advent. Yes, Advent. Did you know we’re in the first week of Advent? Advent is a season of waiting. And in our house, the mantra is not “hurry up, rush, shop,” it’s “Slow down. Be quiet. It’s Advent.”

One of my favorite ways of marking Advent is through an Advent calendar. And yes, although we’re technically in the first week of Advent already, it’s not too late to start observing the season of Advent.

Advent calendars mark each day in December up through Christmas Day. They typically tell the story of the Nativity. Some are “permanent” calendars with little doors through which you can hide chocolates or other treats. Others are boxes with the chocolates already hidden inside.

Last year, we made the mistake of buying just one Advent calendar. This year, there are three – one for each of the boys and one for DH and I to share. And yes – you can still find them. Just last night DH picked up the Advent calendars at Whole Foods. We love the the Divine Chocolate calendar – fair trade chocolate from Ghana. And it seems local too, since their corporate offices are right here in DC.

A few years ago, I established a family tradition of leaving the dinner table to read a Christmas story and then enjoy a piece of Advent chocolate.

And every year, I tell myself that we’ll continue the tradition of reading after dinner. Yet somehow by the time December rolls around, we’ve fallen out of the habit of reading after dinner. But it’s a great habit to pick up again each year. So join me – bring out the Christmas books, enjoy a piece of Advent chocolate (just 20 calories!) and Relax. Slow Down. It’s Advent.

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

5 Responses to “Slow Christmas: Fighting Holiday Commercialism”

  1. Christine on December 2, 2008 5:33 pm

    We have an Advent calendar that is made of wood and has little doors. It’s very cute. Instead of candy we leave little notes for each other each day…I love the cute notes my 7 year old leaves me :)

    That is such a cute idea! I’d love to do that too…problem is, I think my 6-year-old would never trade chocolate for notes…but maybe we could do both someday if I ever end up with one of those nice permanent Advent calendars! :) Thanks for the tip! — Lynn

  2. Erin on December 2, 2008 7:53 pm

    I love your idea of reading! It is hard though with dinner starting late, especially if both parents work. We’re a little less ambitious in our house. We try and just read a Christmas story on Christmas Eve. It is a great moment to reflect on the holiday season and settle in to the spirit.


    Hi Erin, Thanks for stopping by! Yes, you have to do what works. Last night was pitch perfect with family dinner and reading afterwards. Tonight…well, the kids ate but it’s 10 p.m. and DH is just now in the kitchen mixing up eggs! We’re both swamped with work….can’t complain though, especially not in these times..! — Lynn

  3. sue on December 3, 2008 11:04 am

    the best is when your older child reads to the younger one. Now they take turns or sometime we all read together taking turns. It’s a tradition worth keeping year round. We did!!

    Yes, well we do read at bedtime, but this after-dinner reading is really nice! :) — Lynn

  4. Kristen on December 3, 2008 5:18 pm

    My mother made an advent calendar when I was a very young child. It contains pockets for a daily piece of chocolate and boy did I get excited when she used to hang it up each year!

    I now hang it on the wall for DH and the kids. The kids are too young to get any candy so for now it is merely a decoration (DH doesn’t need the chocolate this year, but don’t tell him I said that!). However, I look forward to starting this tradition for the kids when they are older. Advent calendars really are a wonderful way to extend Christmas excitement through the entire month.

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