1. We tell each other what we want as a present. In fact, we make lists with cheap and not-quite-so cheap ideas so that we can avoid spending money on things no-one wants or needs. We do not believe that "if you love someone you can read their mind and so know what they want"!
2. We are giving experiences instead of things to some people. There are some people in everyone's life who don't really need anything much -but who would really enjoy going to a movie, a concert or going out to a dinner somewhere. In the case of my DH and I we are giving each other a season subscription to the WA Symphony Orchestra. Usually we would hesitate to just add the concerts to our entertainment budget, but as a Christmas gift it has its own budget! We will enjoy these concerts all year.
3. We have planned a simple Christmas celebration schedule, which spreads the festivities out over two days -Christmas Day and Boxing Day. We had found that our extended family was getting exhausted trying to see both of their families on Christmas Day. Children were getting toys on Christmas morning yet did not have time to play with them because they spent so much time in the car. My extended family meets on Boxing Day, which is much more relaxed and enjoyable. This year we are going to have a picnic in the park -there are 28 adults and 14 children on the invitation list!
4. We have got used to a simple style of Christmas menu, which allows most of the work to be done the day before. It is usually very hot in Western Australia on December 25th so we enjoy lots of salads and fruit. This year we are just adding to these a grilled salmon steak or beef steak -grilled on the barbecue, served with a special sauce. So everyone enjoys it -even the cook. The point of the meal is to be with our family and friends, not about trying to win the culinary Olympics. You will note that I am not a traditionalist at all when it comes to Christmas -we don't like turkey for example, and I personally detest plum pudding, especially on a hot day. You can do what ever you like at Christmas -there is no Christmas Police force who will check up on what you do!
5. We select several charities and give donations on behalf of all of us. This year I am going to choose Caritas for overseas aid, and Bartholemew's House (local homeless shelter) but you might think of Oxfam and the Salvation Army, or any charity of your choice. Giving to others makes Christmas meaningful.
6. We make time to enjoy the experiences which make up a Christmas season.
- My DH is singing in the UWACS performance of Handel's Messiah on the 19th December for example. What would Christmas be without Handel's Messiah?
- We are marking the Advent season with our Advent Calendar and our Advent Wreath.
- We are writing cards and letters to old friends.
- We will go out to look at those gardens nearby which have decorated with lights for Christmas. ( not something we choose to do, for the sake of the planet) but we can still appreciate the efforts of others.
- We always watch the Carols by Candlelight (an Australian tradition) from Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl on Christmas eve, then go out to Midnight Mass.
The Advent Conspiracy