Christmas To-Dos

  1. Knit another five or six gifts (thankfully, small ones)
  2. Figure out what I want to make as my “edible gift.”
  3. Make said “edible gift.”
  4. Find superbly-awesome and thrifty/recycled wrapping material/style.
  5. Wrap said gifts in said superbly-awesome/thrifty/recycled wrapping material.
  6. Cook Christmas lunch (Chili…OH yeah!!)
  7. Avoid sweets at work (stay awaaaaay).
  8. Survive the office with almost everyone gone (No, I CAN’T help you.  No one can.  Call back after the Holidays.  KTHXBai!!)

Oh, and it’s the Solstice today, so happy Solstice….and for the fundies out there, no, it doesn’t automatically make me a pagan to say that.  Solstice has been incredibly important to just about all of the indigenous cultures of our world.  From this point foward, the days get longer again…thank goodness:).

Have some tea:

And a Kins:

And enjoy your night:)

Getting Back into the Grind…

Back to the salt mines today…although it wasn’t unsuccessful.  I got my big case taken care of and we surpassed our goal, so all in all it was a good day. 

Conversely, though, I’m achy and my stomach hurts.  I think it’s probably finally just categorically rejecting Thanksgiving. 

On an excellent note, I pulled a couple of recipes from The Jew and the Carrot and I’m making a Jewish feast tomorrow night for our friend John!  J&C is such an awesome blog…it has great recipes and very interesting cultural and religious perspectives.  As a Christian, I think it’s a good idea to learn more about a modern culture that directly descended from the cultural atmosphere in which Christ lived and in which the early church developed.  What interests me most about J&C is the similarities in what we face toward our own religion…the questioning beyond old answers, thinking ethically about items not specifically mentioned in scripture (vegetarian/veganism), the move toward a more organic, simple, authentic life.  I love it. 

I love seeing our generation stop taking the crap that we’ve been fed for so long as truth.  More is not better.  Cheaper is not always better.  Conversely, “stuff,” spending on stuff, is not better.  Quantity matters less than Quality.  Time is more important than Money.  Power is useless in the end.  The newest, shiniest technology isn’t always an advantage.  Sometimes pen and paper is better.

I have hope for our generation; hope that we’ll let go of “stuff” and instead will focus on people, relationships, helping, caring, spending time, creating things, and taking care of ourselves.  The American Dream is not power and prosperity, or, at least, it shouldn’t be.  It’s being able to spend the time you want with those you love without having to worry.  And there’s a hell of a lot more that we could be doing to make those things happen.

A Minimalist Christmas…or an Attempt, at Least

A vintage Kins-shot to start the post; I found lots of old pics on our external hard drive, so I saved some to include in posts for you.  This one was particularly cute, I think…Shelli was very interested in the camera.  you can also see her little shaved belly; they spayed her at six weeks; sometimes they do that to help them be more adoptable.  It helped us a lot because we couldn’t have afforded the spay fee.

I don’t feel like talking about food today.  Suffice it to say that I had too much of it yesterday and the day before and that I’m pissed about that and plan to eat extremely cleanly for the next week at least.  Also suffice it to say that I’ve learned a very important lesson about being a vegetarian at omnivore family gatherings:  I will need to bring a very good veggie dish to every one I go to.  Green beans?  Cooked in beef stock.  Turnip greens?  Same thing.  My options?  Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes.  I’m sick of them.  Anyway, on to other things.

One of the most fundamental aspects of voluntary simplicity is the idea of “minimalism,” or reducing one’s possessions down to what is absolutely necessary and/or important.  Possessions should reflect one’s values, and those values should not include amassing as much “stuff” as possible.  One of the first steps, I daresay, into a more simple life is taking inventory of one’s possessions and paring them down to the important stuff.

We’ve done this a few times; we’ve had two or three yard sales and have made decent money, but we’re still really bad about keeping stuff because “we might need it later.”  I’m over that.  We have an office that we can’t even get into, and the dresser in the bedroom is so covered with junk that I have to stand on tiptoes to put my hair in a ponytail in the morning.  Our mission for the next few weeks is going to be to get those rooms cleared out.

A truly minimalist Christmas is impossible for me; I’m stuck in the corporate world, and we have THREE, yes, you heard me right, THREE holiday “events” that we have to participate in.  And, as much as I like the people I work with, the amount of time/energy/money that we have to spend on those events is incredibly draining.  Then, our church puts on a musical every year, with six performances (and a dress rehersal) that ends up taking up an entire week of our lives, and then we need to fit in a Sunday School fellowship…etc, and the list goes on.  For me, this year, our commitments will not allow for minimalism (although watch out, because that very well may change next year), but at least I can take some steps now to help reduce the clutter and stress of the holiday season.  Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. cleaning off the dresser
  2. getting rid of articles/paperwork that I don’t need anymore
  3. putting away/organizing my shoes
  4. getting the bedroom closet so that we can store clothes in there again.
  5. starting on the office

Now, anyone can “clean.”  The point of the minimalist-driven clutter project is to take a very hard look at EVERY item and asking oneself whether or not it’s really that important.  Have you used it in the last three months?  four months?  If not, then you probably want to sell it, donate it, or chuck it if you can’t do anything else.  Don’t be overly sentimental; just let it go.

If you need help mustering up the courage to start, check out Far Beyond the Stars.  This guy is extremely serious about the minimalist lifestyle, to the extreme.  While the lengths to which he goes may not be for everyone, his philosphy is something that can really be taken to heart, and his tips are worthwhile, regardless of what level you’re comfortable taking them to.

Enjoy your Saturday!