Rethinking the meaning of Christmas

It’s Christmas: A time to reflect, spend time with family and friends, enjoy a hot drink in the snow (preferably with a dash of rum) and bring some much needed cheer to the world.

At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be. The reality for most people is much different, and instead of being an invitation to relax, Christmas can become a source of stress and anxiety. Did I get the right gifts? Where did those decorations go? And what about the in-laws? It can be overwhelming for even the most well-prepared person.

But is it really necessary to panic about all that—and in November? Why do we have to listen to advertisements to find the perfect gift? Does the newest gadget or toy really bring the joy we think it will? With that in mind, I want to share three realizations I’ve had about this time of year that could make it better than ever for you and your family.

family-chrstmas

First, I enjoy Christmas in my home country Austria much more than in the UK. That’s because everyone enjoys Glühwein and punch with friends, and hardly anyone stresses out over decorations before Christmas Eve. Actually, you don’t have to do anything, because it’s the Christkind that brings the tree and all the presents on the evening of the 24th. The Christkind is this little angel that flies through your window and brings all the decorations with it. When it’s done, it rings a bell and the whole family storms into the room to find a beautifully decorated tree with lots of sparklers. And you should see the children’s eyes when they get into the room. They are so stunned, they don’t even see the presents because they are too amazed about the tree. Even I still enjoy that moment the best.

Okay, to be honest, getting to that point does take some work, even in Austria. One parent has to stay home while the other one entertains the kids for the afternoon. But shopping is not part of that entertainment, as everything, really everything closes at noon on the 24th and shops don’t reopen before the 27th of December.

Second, presents aren’t the most important thing in an age when most people can buy just about anything we want, anytime we want. What we still cannot buy is the time we spend together and the memories we create while doing so. I’m not saying we should skip presents altogether. No, never! Especially with children that would be horrible, since it would ruin their understanding of Santa (or in our case Father Christmas and the Christkind). But we should try to step back and not overdo it with the gifts—especially if we’re just buying presents to fill space under the tree. Just say no to space filling presents destined to end up in the garbage.

My third and final realization might be the most unpopular (and maybe worthy of a separate article): I don’t like wrapping paper or Christmas cards. Are pretty gift  wrapping and all of those ribbons that adorn it really necessary? After all, if you have kids I’m sure you’ve had the experience of watching your toddler think that the wrapping is actually the gift. And while that’s funny, doesn’t it also miss the point?

sustainable-gift-wrapping

When you hold a wrapped present in your hand, it’s all about excitement and anticipation of what’s inside — not admiring the paper that surrounds it. So here’s a helpful tip: skip the fancy paper and wrap your gifts in an old newspaper instead.  Most wrapping paper can’t be recycled anyway. Why not reuse old newspaper that can be recycled? The only purpose of wrapping a present is to unwrap and destroy the paper within seconds anyway. As for the bows, search for gift bows made of magazines on the internet and you will find hundreds of ideas how to make them yourself.

Sure it takes more time, but Christmas craft making time can also be a time to make memories.

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About the Author

Born in Austria, she started tinapoelzl design in Vienna after her daughter Lili-Anna was born. Before that she also lived in Canada (Toronto), Belgium, Switzerland and moved in 2015 with her family to England, UK. tinapoelzl design  is an upcycling label specializing in refashioning men’s apparel into wearable memories.

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