Friday, December 14, 2012

Occupy Christmas

Occupy Christmas 2012

Earlier this week, my friend K re-posted this Occupy Christmas list from Rage Against the Minivan and I wanted to share it with you all!

I'm a big believer in having a simple Christmas. I'm of the less is more camp when it comes to decorations and, more importantly, I believe in giving big and buying small. For me, that means making handmade gifts instead of buying things, donating to charities, and focusing on spending time together with loved ones instead of shopping for them.

I spent most of my childhood having simple - and wonderful! - Christmases. After my parents got divorced, my mom went through this purging period where she donated most of our Christmas decorations. I'm pretty sure she gave our entire Christmas village and Christmas train to our landscaper one day. After that, our house always felt festive with just my great-grandmother's creche, a pretty tree strung with white lights, homemade garland and whatever "brilliant" decorating ideas my sister and I had, and some natural garland with big red bows on the staircase, mantel and front door. We made homemade Christmas ornaments as our Christmas presents for all of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles every year. We always did some kind of donation or project for a nonprofit. And we were limited to three Christmas presents from Santa. I was always confused when I saw movies and the kids had these long, rambling lists. But my mom told me Jesus got three presents, so that is what we got. :-)

Looking back, I'm so grateful that our Christmas was focused on volunteering and charity and that Christmas was mostly about the excitement of going to visit our huge family in Miami. I remember opening Christmas presents on Christmas morning, but truth be told, I can't tell you what a single one of those presents were. What I do remember is my grandparents waiting for me to get off the plane, waking up to a house full of aunts and uncles who had brought donuts, singing Christmas carols, and helping bake lots of cookies, cakes, and other yummy foods in a packed kitchen. These are the memories that have stood the test of time - and they have nothing to do with gifts.

As I've grown up, and as Brett and I think about what we want our Christmases to look like, it can be hard to resist the idea that you need to have a ton of huge presents underneath a decorated-to-the-max-with-ornaments-from-Pottery-Barn tree. That is what society tells us a "merry" Christmas looks like (and that is advertised every .5 seconds). But this Christmas, amidst all of the commercialized mess, I feel like more and more people are embracing a simple Christmas. It seems like there are more people who are trying to give creatively and not just give the biggest present. There seems to be more of an emphasis on giving back and helping those who are less fortunate. And there seems to be a focus on spending time instead of money.

So here is to a simple and peaceful Christmas this year! To a Christmas that has everything to do with love, family and special traditions, and very little to do with wish lists! 

P.S. If you are still looking for some gift ideas (I know I am!), be sure to check out Rage Against the Minivan's fantastic post or K's gift guides.


  1. I agree with you on the commercialization of Christmas as do a lot of people I am sure. This is my first Christmas out of college as young professional with an alright job and with a little bit of money to spare. I am still uncertain what I am going to get my girlfriend, but my peers constantly name brand drop, for example, Tory Burch clutch, MK shoes or watch, coach purse etc etc... should i feel pressured into buying one of these things. My girlfriend will no doubt like whatever I get her, am I just getting caught up in the commercialization of Christmas?

  2. I LOVE this posting! It is wonderful to see that some of the "younger generation" are resisting the Christmas that marketers have been cramming down our throats. TV commercials continue to "teach" us how we can demonstrate our love through buying bigger, better and expensive gifts. I remember an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" where they celebrated Christmas w/ 1 small gift for each family member...including an orange, a homemade rag doll and knitted scarf. They sang songs together, shared stories and baked a special dinner. It was so simple and beautiful. True peace and love with family and friends. I hope more people embrace Shannon's concept of Christmas...its true meaning of spending time together, giving from the heart, and remembering the less fortunate. As my grandmother used to say..."there, but for the grace of God, go I"

  3. I'm glad you'll be Occupying Christmas too! And I love your Little House on the Prairie reference. :-)