Archive for 'holidays'

Creating Your Slow Holiday

I went into a department store the other day in search of a punching balloon for a papier mache pinata we are making. The Halloween decorations were out. Which makes sense. And right behind them were the Christmas decorations. Garland, stockings, tree stands and more. Really. In the beginning of October. And I breathed in. Out. And realized it was time once again to set some intentions for how it could/should/would be for our family.

Rather than panic I took it as a reminder that the holidays were coming and if I wanted them to be peaceful and easy, which I do, now might be a good time to start pondering what they might look like.

Over the past few years we, as a family, have honed in on what we want our holidays to look like. What we want to do. Where we want to go. And most importantly, how we want them to feel. For us the holidays are full of making stuff, day trips, family hikes, packages mailed and treats created. Because, regardless of our beliefs, the holidays come at us from every direction in every form. And if we’re not clear about what we DO want, we are bombarded by what we don’t want. And I don’t think I need to go into detail about what that looks like.

In light of all of this, we created a workbook a couple of years ago to help families figure out not just what they don’t want, but what they DO want. How do we want it to feel? What are the pieces we want to incorporate and how can we get where we want to be as the holidays come our way.

Because goodness knows, they definitely come our way whether we are ready or not.

If you’d like to set some intentions for your upcoming holiday season and make your holidays feel more aligned with your family life, this Creating Your Slow Holiday workbook might be for you. Check it out. Answer the questions and then let us know what pieces worked for you. What changes are you going to implement? We’d love to know.

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Holiday Stuff

In our house of 6 people, the stuff of holidays can start to get a bit overwhelming. Not the events, we’ve got that pretty much under control. We decide where we’ll go, what events we’ll attend, what parties we’ll pop in on and it’s all determined on a case by case and day by day basis. “What are we ready for?” Seems to be the guiding question this time of year. A sort of variation on our usual theme of “is this working for us?”

The stuff I’m talking about in the overwhelm department is the actual physical stuff. We’ve just finished up a round of birthdays for everyone except me. We’ve kind of got what we need and even the kids are really not clamoring for much more. Especially our oldest who has a bit of the minimalist in her.

But then the holidays arrive and with it the stuff.

It’s not a consumption thing I’m worried about. We’ve got that down pretty good. We buy second hand or we go handmade – either our own or someone else’s. But still, it’s stuff. More stuff in our house and honestly we’re about full up.

This month we’ve been getting rid of things. It’s sort of become our tradition – the idea of getting rid of something everyday during the month of December. We missed a few days early in the month so our resident minimalist had everyone play a little catch up last week. She set the bag out on the kitchen table and facilitated the purging of stuff. Going through treasure drawers, under beds, on dresser tops, etc. It felt good for everyone to clear a little space and we all agreed, a clear space creates a more clear mind.

What I’ve realized will help eliminate the overwhelm as we enter this gift giving season is giving and receiving gifts that are consumables. Not just the sweets – although they are really good of course – but other consumables as well. Things such as a Yule Log decorated in school that can then be burned in the fire pit. Beeswax candles that bring joy every time they’re illuminated. Or the case of toilet paper that my mom sent. (is that the best gift ever for a family of six? I think so) A giant ham. All those things bring joy (yes a case of toilet paper brings me joy) and then they are used up and gone, not claiming any  permanent residence in our world.

As I enter this season, or rather as we are in the midst of it, I ponder this idea. How might that apply to kids? Art supplies I guess would fall into that category. Or a class of some kind. Or maybe an outing. And even if we don’t do all consumables, because surely we won’t, we’re going to really try and ponder the energy of each object brought into the home. Will it bring energy to our world? Or will it take energy away?

I find it difficult sometimes to walk the gift giving line with kids. But we’re trying. And each year I think we figure something else out that helps us make it work for our family.

What have you figured out in your world? I’d love to know.

Bring on the joy

The announcements have begun in earnest – craft fairs and holiday fairs and sing-a-longs and all sorts of gatherings of the flesh and the spirit. Here at our house we even sent out our first package filled with yummy baked goods to an uncle in another state who has a lucky pre-holiday birthday.

As the holidays approach it’s time for me to pick and choose the events we’ll attend and the things we’ll do. Which ones feel good? Which ones work for us? Which ones make us feel panicky and stressed? The gift list must be assessed not necessarily because there are so many gifts to get but because I like to stay sort of mindful about the approach and I know that when it goes to the last minute I make hasty (read: expensive) decisions based on simple mindLESSness. Last year it was (almost) all second hand or hand made which felt really good as the day rolled around but which definitely takes a little more time and thought.

There are lots of things we like to do around/during the holidays.  I like to gather with friends. I like to sing. I like to make stuff and bake stuff.  I like to make sure that each object brought into the house or sent out into the world will bring good energy to the recipient – love, joy, fun, beauty, function. You know, all the necessary ingredients for any object really. 

This time of year comes every year and yet every year it sort of comes at me by surprise. At first. We have our rituals and our traditions and sometimes we add new things as well. I don’t always know exactly what we’ll discover in the holidays all around us but I do know how I want it to feel. And this year, more than ever, I’m going for the full on joy and the connection. What I’ve come to realize of late is what’s the point otherwise.

Last year we created this mini e*book to help folks find ways to create their own holidays – just the way they like them. It’s a brief foray into figuring out what’s important, what stresses you out, what influences and how you want to feel this holiday season. If you want a little guidance around creating your slow holiday, this simple e*book may be just the ticket.

And, as we’re always on look out for more ways to bring on the comfort and joy in our world, I’d love to hear what you’ve created for the holidays in your home. The first exchange of the season.

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Ringing in the whole long season

We’ve made a decision this year to focus on the entire long season as opposed to just one day. In year’s past we always celebrated the pre-season, Advent, and all the festivities leading up to Christmas. This year though we’re extending it even further, beyond New Year’s day even, all the way to the Epiphany. Who doesn’t want to celebrate a day called Epiphany? Religious or not!

Growing up my mom always extended the season all the way to The Epiphany, a.k.a. Three Kings Day and the original meaning behind the 12 days of Christmas. On the Epiphany, we would receive boxes of Cracker Jacks, wrapped up in tin foil, and left on the back porch. As if they were actually left by the three kings. Forget Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. How about Cracker Jacks?

Over the years that kind of fell out of my own family traditions. But this year again I am embracing the full on season, from December 1 all the way to January 6th. This has taken a lot of the pressure off to get things out on time. We are creating our family packages to be shipped knowing full well they won’t arrive by Christmas, but they just might make it to their destinations before January 6th. We’re doing a community book drive in January and not worrying that it’s not before Christmas. We’re making our holiday crafts this week and next. I may even wrap up some Cracker Jacks in tin foil too while we’re at it!

I’m loving the feeling of extending the season. I’m loving the pressure being off, not that there really was any true pressure, but still. I’m loving also the realization that traditions can come and go and even come back again and morph along the way to suit each family’s needs.

Got any morphing traditions in your house?

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DIY holiday

We had a great teleclass last night with folks calling in from several different points. We discussed what’s working. What’s not. And perhaps the most resounding, what’s the feeling you’re going for this holiday season. All callers left with some good nugget to take with them into their holiday season. Thanks to all who called in.

We talked a bit about gift giving too and how to keep it in check and fill it with the spirit we are seeking this season. In our house what works for us is to focus on handmade and homemade and on the rituals that allow the whole season to be celebrated.

At Future Craft Collective, my other collaborative endeavor, we just finished up a great round of advent calendar making and each calendar made is so unique – not just in its look but in its purpose too. Some countdown to Christmas, others to New Year’s and still others to solstice or Three Kings Day.

Two sweet creations by Clair. The tree and the child.
Two sweet creations by Clair. The tree and the child.

The season is here. And it is ready to be celebrated. In any way, shape or form that you so choose. Make it yours. Make it work for you and your family. And make it something to be enjoyed, not merely endured.

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Comfort and joy

I started to spiral a little bit into holiday blues this past week. I was worrying about the consumption of it all and not exactly finding the spirit needed to bring me joyfully into this season. In an effort to combat the blues and bring in the cheer, I made a short list of what I wanted this month…

  • connection with family and friends
  • celebration of the season
  • baking
  • crafting
  • sharing my good fortunes with others
  • kindness
  • a spirit of giving
  • comfort and joy

As I looked at the list I realized all the things I want are completely attainable. And all are well within my power to make happen. We hung our Advent Calendar (finally) which consists of tiny pockets full of trinkets which get pinned onto the tree. In each pocket I also stuck a little note full of ideas for giving of the spirit. I crafted with some mama friends last night. And today, on this chilly rainy Sunday afternoon in Austin, TX I plan on doing a little holiday baking with the kids. And each time I start to spiral into overwhelm, I’ll look at my list for inspiration.

How do you create the spirit you want around the holidays? Do you know how you want the holidays to look and feel? Will you count down the days with joy this holiday? Or cross them off in a race of endurance?

If you need some ideas, we have a Creating Your Holidays e*book that will help you figure out just how you want things to look and feel.

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Holiday slow down

Though we haven’t quite hit Thanksgiving yet, the move into holiday mode has already officially begun. And if it seems like it’s coming at you faster than ever, perhaps it’s because it really is. I even read one report of an early “black Friday” which seems to me like calling Thursday Monday.

In our house we are beginning our holiday prep by making list of the items we can make for gifts this year. Sewing, drawing, baking, helping, collecting will all be themes this year for sure. We are not big shoppers by any stretch. Well, unless you count the thrift store which I truly adore. We are however big lovers of making and sending packages far and wide. These packages have become a big part of our holidays and we start their assemblage in early December and fill them all month long. It’s fun on our end to make things, draw pictures, find things in our treasure stash, discover relics here and there that remind us of relatives far and wide and pack them up in crayon covered wrappings. When all is said and done, filled and decorated, the boxes go out via USPS to their destinations.

To all of us in our family of six, this ritual, which has grown over the past few years, feels connected. It fills us with the spirit of giving. It fills us with thoughts of our huge and extended family. It is now filled with tradition too. And it feels slow and connected.

What are some of your traditions? What are the things you do during the holidays that fill you with love and connection? How have you found ways to celebrate the season without feeling overwhelmed?

Need help finding ways to slow down your holiday? We’ll help you bring back the comfort and the joy.

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Getting ready for summer

Future Craft Collective has posted the first of its summer long series for Craftzine’s Virtual Summer Camp. This one is all about getting intentional and finding inspiration within the family. Sound like a familiar Slow Family theme? Here’s a teaser below. From there you can go to Craftzine and get the rest of the project…

It’s that time of year, folks, when the classroom parties hit a fever pitch, the volunteer coordinator at school has you on speed dial, and we, as parents, start to spiral into a little bit of a panic about the season that is ending and the season that is about to begin. Don’t get us wrong, we love summer with its opportunities for sleeping in and its carefree nature. It’s just the transition that can be a little tricky. This is our kick-off project for summer “campless” camp and we are totally excited for a summer full of projects. With this project, it is our greatest intention to help ease you and your kids into the transition, while simultaneously helping you get intentional about the open-ended summer months ahead. Read more…

Intentions and Inspirations Banner

Intentions and Inspirations Banner

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Finding ideas

I just blogged at my other blog about my worries of inadequacy this time of year. I usually have a handle on it but this year, though I’ve thought lots about how it will go, I didn’t do enough of the actual footwork towards getting it all done. Now, 2 days to go, I’m trying to salvage a feeling of peace and joy.

So, I come here to blog some more, and I read a comment regarding the Gift Giving page and I am inspired once again. I did get the hammock. And a few other toys of great connection – games and rockets and models to build together. But I was feeling like it needed something more. So the comment from Kami about building a stocked picnic basket was exactly what I needed to bump it up where I want it to be. We are going on a picnic on Christmas day anyway (also thanks to Kami’s inspiration) so, a beautifully stocked basket will be the perfect intro to that outing.

I love finding ideas from other mamas, other families, other people. That is one of the great beauties of the blog world.

Solstice Celebration!

Title: Solstice Celebration!
Location: Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge in Austin, TX
Link out: Click here
Description: Gather on the bridge to celebrate the changing season and to welcome the light that is on its way.
Start Time: 4:05
Date: 2008-12-21
End Time: 6:00

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