Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Simplified "Natural Holiday" How-To

Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo.

This month's topic is Incorporating Natural Into the Holidays. Be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.

This month's theme about "natural holidays" had me stumped: how do I "bring my natural lifestyle into the holidays" with me? This is not something I think about. I don't think of myself as being particularly intentional about the ways in which I live a "natural" life; rather, those things (which I have to pause to try and conjure up a list, because they are my normal) are simply parts of what feels good about living life to me. For instance, being mindful of my family's impact on the environment in various ways (composting, reducing personal trash and usage of disposable and paper products, utilizing public transportation and walking) are all things that just feel better to me than the alternatives. I don't do them out of guilt or obligation; I do them because I like to.

So when it comes to the holidays, I basically just keep doing a lot of the same things I do in my everyday life while I also attempt to prevent the stress and overwhelm of the holidays from getting to me in favor of enjoying celebrating with people I love.

We don't often travel during this time of year, so that saves fossil fuels. I do my best to shop local, handmade, or from small businesses for items that I don't make myself by hand. I do utilize Amazon for purchasing other items which I can't find locally, which saves me from making two trips out in the car (one to a store and another to the post office) during this busy season. I do my best not to go overboard with gift giving, which benefits our family budget, too.

Most of all, I try to keep the seasonal celebrations low-key and as stress-free as possible. If we're not enjoying ourselves, all the effort put into creating the celebrations in the first place doesn't feel as worth it. Plus, Daniel is very easily overstimulated, so Jaymz and I have to be particularly mindful of the ways we go about enjoying holidays and family celebrations like birthdays.

Less is definitely more when it comes to holidays in our house:
  • Fewer gifts mean less stuff, less money spent, and more time available to focus on providing a smaller number of higher quality (or more special) things to gift. 
  • We can't overdo it with the sugary foods or we all end up feeling terrible (Jaymz and I both get headaches; Daniel has increased difficulty with emotional regulation and sleep). We're definitely finding that few treats are nice to share, but more than that and they stop feeling special and start hurting our bodies.
  • We reuse simple decorations year-to-year, which cuts down on waste and also the amount of stuff we have to store in the basement year-round. If we want new decorations (like ornaments or a garland), we make a project out of making them ourselves—then it's a fun activity we can do together, as well as being productive.
  • We choose one or two things to purchase as special treats during this time of year instead of jumping at every chance to buy something new. For instance, one thing I've treated our family to in the past is a fresh wreath in December. I enjoy the smell of evergreen, and seeing the wreath hanging on our door inspires a spirit of festivity in me. This year for Thanksgiving, we're planning on ordering a pre-made turkey dinner from a local grocery store to share with out-of-town family when they're here visiting. It will save me time on my feet in the kitchen, and afford us more time to spend together during their brief visit.
Finally, I find that when I focus on the people—the connections and relationships I value the most—the rest of the stuff of the holidays (obligation, stress, guilt) simply fades away any my priorities are clear. There's nothing more valuable to me than spending time with people I love. When I keep that at the center of my focus this time of year, I enjoy myself much more overall.

Bloggers, visit GrowingSlower to sign up to be a part of next month's carnival. 


  1. Spending quality time with people we love truly is the best part of the holidays. I have so many good memories of fun holidays past that always make me smile. I can't wait for Thanksgiving haha.

    1. I love spending time with people and just being able to relax! The delicious food doesn't hurt, either... ;)

  2. I thought the same thing when I sat down to think about my post! What we do is just...what we do. I don't always really think about it.

  3. I love your final comment about focusing on people during the holidays. That's what the holidays are truly about.

  4. It is so true that if you are living a more natural lifestyle then all holidays become a natural extension of that. What I have found hard is if your lifestyle is not the same as the rest of your families it is problematic to assimilate the two.

  5. Ah yes, so true, focus on the people and the stress and guilt will fade away. Love it :)

  6. Between the cold air this week and your idea about purchasing a fresh wreath, I am definitely ready for the holidays!

  7. I love the idea of buying something fresh! When I was growing up we bought a family ornament each year, but we already have plenty of ornaments, so that tradition doesn't make as much sense for my family now. Maybe fresh greenery would be a better use for those funds (and I love the scent of the tree - I'd be happy to extend that throughout the house). Thanks for the inspiration!

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