As I told Andy, I had something of a "Christmas faith crisis" this year, and what I mean by that is (in great contrast to my childhood holidayphilia) I got especially fed up with the usual Christmas complaints: the consumerism, the manufactured traditions, the shallowness and self-destructiveness of all the various trappings. And I'm trying to figure that all out, trying to find my balance. Not just in Christmas, but in lots of things. Valentine's Day, wedding rings, celebratory feasting, birthday presents, and so on.
Don't get me wrong; I still love traditions and holidays. On one hand, I feel like we don't have much of a holiday personality for our family yet. We've been swept up in the more established traditions of extended family every year since we got married. But we've got a few things to call our own. Probably my favorite thing is our homeless care packages. With help and donations from Andy's family (who visited us for Christmas), we put together twenty packages filled with various small personal hygiene and food items, then topped each one with a bow. On Christmas morning, before we opened our own gifts, we all hopped in a couple of cars and drove east. It didn't take much time to find twenty people who didn't have any other Christmas presents or anything much at all. Most were very sweet and grateful, one was suspicious of us, one was asleep, a few didn't say anything, one refused our gift with a silent, smiling gesture. Corryn was too shy to help pass them out this year, but Elliot got really excited about it. We may not have helped a whole lot (though I researched and tried to give gifts that would be genuinely useful), but at the very least we made some people's otherwise dreary Christmas day a little more cheery.
Our other attempted tradition this past year was a New Year's memory jar. The idea is that throughout the year, you write down your favorite moments or events and put them in a jar, then on New Year's Eve you open it up and read them all together. I love the theory of it. But, predictably, I was the only one who contributed to the jar, and I only lasted a couple of months. They were definitely fun to read on New Year's Eve, but in all honesty we will only get worse about keeping up with it. So in thinking about it, I realized that we already do document our whole year in our natural routine: we're always taking photographs and videos of our kids and our special moments. So rather than writing our memories down, I've made an iPhoto album called 2013, and every time I upload photos I put a few highlights in there. Then on New Year's, we can go through all the photographs together. The same effect as a written memory jar but much more realistically sustainable. I'm going to take the pretty jar I bought and use it to hold change and spare cash that will go toward next Christmas' homeless care packages.
Our only other annual tradition I can think of is our family photobooth portrait.
So there you have it, the only three traditions we have that I really care about.
I'm not much of a formal goal setter, though I always have lots of projects and things going on. But a month or so ago, I started a few little efforts that have evolved into something of a New Year's Resolution: my goal is to make somebody's day as often as I can. It started by realizing that I held back compliments and simple friendly gestures (things as trivial as liking something on Facebook or posting a comment on a blog). And I did it because I'm a snob. I don't want people thinking I like them too much. Really, as ridiculous as that sounds, it's true. But... I DO like everybody. And it lifts me a little bit every time I get a thoughtful email or a smile or a lot of Likes. Why on earth would I hold those back from anybody else? Stupid stupid. So I've been working on giving compliments liberally, giving sincere and personal birthday messages on Facebook, liking everything I actually like, and so on. And as much as I used to be a Facebook snob (having refused to join until after I graduated from college), I think it's a wonderful tool. A wonderful way to still be neighborly with those you may not live close to any more. A perfect way to express a little love. I will stop resisting this increasingly efficient vehicle for niceness.
I remember lots and lots of times when people have made my day. Getting two snail-mail letters from LJ. Getting an encoded postcard and an email about a butter dish from Holly. Receiving the coolest little kid activity book (and accompanying mix CD) from Rachel. A mix from Chris. Two Star Wars books in the mail from Tamsen. Sam calling me friend. Poprocks and valentines from cousin Lindsey. A Hawaiian postcard from this couple from church that we don't know very well. Jen babysitting twice in a row on very short notice. A surprise visit and a music video from Stelth. An app recommendation from Tianna. A movie invitation from Cliff. An invitation to be creative from Taryn. Lacey's inclusion of me in her own neighborly endeavors. An email from my old English teacher. And countless emails, phone calls, sleep-in-mornings, sweet hugs, snotty slobbery kisses, free babysittings, cleaning help, cooking help, and love and support from my family, Andy's family, Andy himself, and our two tiny roommates.
That's my goal. To make somebody's day whenever I can, in small ways or whatever ways fit the circumstances.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
at 4:23 PM