Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Tag

Slowly Enjoying the Christmas Tree   Leave a comment

I love a good Christmas tree. I love everything about it. In our old house there wasn’t enough room for a full tree so this is our first Christmas tree and we’re loving it! I have to be very grateful to my husband for being willing to enjoy it slowly, though.

For the first week we left the tree completely nude, except for a cowboy-hat “topper”. The tree is in a corner where it does get a little bit of sun since the best sun-protected corner currently houses the loveseat, but that means that in the morning I got to enjoy the beauty of morning rays of sun filtering through a few evergreen branches. Simple beauty. As much I love decorated Christmas trees, I loved the opportunity to really enjoy the nude tree, too, without rushing to obscure its inherent beauty. I think that I’d like to make it a tradition that we leave our tree bare and enjoy a “Yule tree” until the week before Christmas/week of solstice, although I’m not sure Mike will be willing to do it every year.

Tonight we added the lights. Doing this slowly makes it feel like we’re dressing the tree up for a grand occasion. There’s the anticipation of putting on the ornaments, but for now we’ll enjoy just the lights. To me the lights are the most important of the decorations anyway. We’ll probably add the ornaments on the 23rd, just in time for Christmas. This slow process fits very well with my spiritual sense. A Yule tree until shortly before Yule, a lit tree around Yule when I light a candle in every room for blessing, and a decorated tree right before and throughout the Christmas holiday.

I suppose I should probably mention that we do have a natural tree, as artificial is not even an option for me. Something about soul. There’s just something so special about the transience of the natural cut tree that only can last for a short time, as opposed to an artificial tree that is unchanging and almost everlasting. It’s not an equal substitution in my mind. I do have fake branches, though, and a fake garland. I used to decorate with real branches, but they just dry out so fast that I switched to artificial since there was no benefit at all to the real ones except from the resource use standpoint. The real branches were the the bottom trimmings from a Christmas tree lot, so it wasn’t using a “new” resource. The artificial ones are plastic, so made from a non-renewable resource and possibly some toxic chemicals.

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Posted December 16, 2011 by mayakey in musings, spiritual practices

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The Absence of Gift Exchanges   Leave a comment

This year we experienced a Christmas with “no” gift exchanges, and I have to say it has been a nice reset year. I’ve always been a big gift-giver; and of course in the past I enjoyed receiving gifts, too. Recently Christmas gift giving has become a harrowing experience for myself and those around me. It was one of the casualties of my journey that slowly evolved into a major problem. As I have progressed on my journey, it became much harder for people to shop for me. Even my mother and husband had trouble. I’ve always been picky, but when you add my commitment to organic, fair trade, clutter-free, artisan-made, etc. etc., it became difficult for other people to buy me things. And that left me feeling guilty that I was inconveniencing other people, and unhappy when/if I had to accommodate a gift that did not fit within my spiritual calling. From there it was a spiral downhill, and the process of developing christmas lists devolved into a night of crying and feeling torn inside. Plus, while originally I was able to buy “conventional” when buying gifts for other people, I had reached a point where that was breaking my heart and my favorite part of Christmas became miserable and conflicting. I had started dreading Christmas.

When the suggestion to skip the gift exchanges this year was brought forward, it was embraced by all (or mostly all). To be completely honest there have been some exchanges because we do have people in our lives who, like myself, love to give gifts. But by eliminating the expectation of gifts, this holiday season has been filled with a new sense of freedom. I don’t know what will happen next year. I hope that we do go back to gift exchanges, because I do love giving people gifts. But I also know that it will be different. I know that many people are having similar Christmases this year due to economic difficulties, and I hope that the experience is similarly refreshing for them. It is time to hit RESET and rethink the modern culture of Christmas gift exchanges.

Posted December 26, 2010 by mayakey in frugal living, unshopping

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The Opposite Of A Christmas and Easter Catholic   Leave a comment

So if the term “Christmas and Easter Catholic” is used to refer to Catholics who attend Mass one or two times a year, what is the term for someone who attends Mass every week but is NOT going to Christmas Mass?

I personally believe that everyone, of any religious tradition, needs to take time off every once in a while. I don’t just mean skipping a service when traveling or otherwise unable to attend, I mean just taking a week or two off. I took a couple of years off back when I was in high school, and found that my faith was absolutely strengthened by that experience and the joy of coming back “into the fold”. I remember how happy and excited I was when I was on my own in college and could go back to Mass. Ever since I have made sure to just skip Mass for no reason a couple of times a year because then it doesn’t just fade into the background of life, and it doesn’t become something I “have” to do. Take a break in order to keep it special.

One of my many mantras is: “Everything in moderation, even moderation.” In an odd way, I think that applies to the issue of religious traditions. Sometimes you have to do something extreme for reinvigoration, and sometimes you have to take a break for the same reason. Once a tradition looses its meaning, the tradition has lost its soul. I have no time or energy for soul-less traditions. So I come to my decision this Christmas. I’m not sure, but I think I may have missed one Christmas Mass in the last 10 years. But this year since I’m not in the choir and can’t attend at my home parish, and would have to sacrifice family time for church attendance, I decided that it is time for a break. After all, now that I sing in the choir, I can’t just wake up on a Sunday morning and decide that I don’t want to go. My ability to skip Mass for no reason has been severely compromised, so I’ll skip a Mass that I don’t HAVE to attend, and that would be Christmas. Easter, however is a whole different matter.

Posted December 24, 2010 by mayakey in musings, psychology, spiritual practices

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Real Holiday Cards   4 comments

I know that many environmentalists are proud to announce that they do not send holiday cards but that they send virtual greetings instead. I’m not one of them. I’m proud to announce that I do send actual Christmas cards. Yes, they use paper and fuel, but the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion.

For one thing, I love receiving cards. I love looking at pretty cards, reading the notes, and looking at any photos. It just feels good, and that’s what life is all about, right? I have gotten virtual greetings before (and I’ve used them, but mostly for birthdays), but there isn’t as much thrill. Since I love receiving the physical cards, I prefer to send out physical cards as well. That’s the same reason that I (occasionally) send handwritten cards to family and friends during the year.

Secondly, “it’s good for the economy”, as much as I am sick and tired of hearing that phrase. Someone got paid to make the card, someone will be paid to transport the card, and someone will be paid to deliver the card. Someone got paid to make the paper, someone got paid to design the card, … you get the point. Some card purchases also benefit a non-profit organization, too.

To modulate the environmental impact of sending cards buy some recycled paper or non-tree fiber paper cards printed with soy-based inks. Buy cards from a small printing company, small shop, fair trade store, non-profit organization, or make your own. Skip the glitter, foil, plastic inserts, and anything else that renders the card non-recycleable. Insert a photo if you want, but don’t weigh the card down too much (I think that rules out those singing cards, too; does anyone actually like receiving a singing card?). A heavier card means more fuel required during transportation. Yes, I know the plane is carrying thousands of cards but imagine if each of them weighed an extra half ounce; it adds up.

Enjoy!

Posted December 5, 2010 by mayakey in environment, psychology, resource use, shopping

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