What if Christmas Meant Something…Less?

I know that some people don’t celebrate Christmas and if that is what works for their value system, it’s okay with me.  Others celebrate the season as the birth of Jesus Christ.  Others believe that it isn’t a true religous holiday (like Easter where we know exactly when it is) but is a nice time to remember the birth of Jesus.

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons attribution, stress, overstressed, modern life, overworkedActually, I am not terribly concerned with how anyone else views Christmas.  My concern is that in this country (and possibly in all of Western culture, I fear) we are living our lives in a completely overstressed, emotionally bankrupt way to try and impress people with cheaply made material goods so that they will feel “loved.”  I see parents giving presents and electronics and “stuff” to kids in lieu of spending time with them.  I see families who are overwhelmed with debt clamoring to give more and more presents, even if the presents will be flimsy and break in a day or two.  Nobody wants to be the parent whose kid didn’t get as much as the next kid.

And we do this ostensibly to celebrate the Savior’s birth?

How, exactly, does out of control materialism in any way help someone to focus on the miracle of deity being born in human flesh as a perfect atonement for all of our sins?  I fail to see the connection.

I have heard arguments that it is because the wise men brought gifts to the baby in a manger.  Okay, then 3 valuable gifts could make sense.  But, how do we justify all of the candy and filler and just foreign made junk under our trees and in our stockings?

I have heard it is because with Savior’s birth brings with it the “Good News” of salvation and therefore we want to make our children smile.  Methinks that might be reaching a bit in the gift excuses category.

However, it is pretty clear that is the retail establishment that is pushing this ol’ purchasing train round the tracks each year.  Advertising (that we watch when we could be doing productive things or spending time with our kids) invoke feelings of guilt and desire.  We all want that perfect Norman Rockwell scene, but when we people it with our own personal foibles and quirks along with those of our friends, families, and communities leave us feeling like Clark Griswold having a bad year!  Why is that?  Why can’t we find a level of togetherness and family that is comfortable and attainable for us and make our own traditions without the pushy influence of those who would all to happily part us from our money without a thought to providing a useful product in return?

When did Consumerism trump Christ in becoming the driving factor in this holiday that bears His name?

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The truth is we’ve all been a little bit brainwashed.  We want to believe that in the midst of the late fall doldrums that there can be a touch of magic, a reason to smile and to be happy and together as the days get shorter.  Frankly, our quest for “stuff” and our inability to distinguish “wants” from “needs” leaves us overscheduled, overstressed, up to our eyeballs in debt (because we are so stinking tired.  Too tired to cook.  Gotta hire a housekeeper, a babysitter, a yard man….) and unable to see real enjoyment in our lives.  No matter how much time we spend with our kiddos, we always wonder if what we are doing is good enough.  Hey, I am a stay home Mama and I wonder if I do enough for my kids.  When I was working full time, I still had those thoughts.  It has taken me a lot of time to understand that those thoughts are just my being a tad anxious about being a Mama and not some real nagging to do more.

And certainly, not to buy more.  Every year, after we purchase Christmas gifts, I wonder, did we do enough?  Enough for what?  According to who?  Hubby reminds me that we aren’t getting in debt and paid cash.  It is plenty.

And it always turns out to be just that.  Plenty.

I want to do for my kids, but I don’t want to forego having a good future by racking up debt.  I don’t want them to be spoiled and unable to feel or express gratitude.  Yet, I always wonder….    And, I bet you do to, sometimes!

To that end, as Christmas 2013 begins to grind toward a halt in the next few days, I have been trying to look forward a bit to try and have a plan for the upcoming year.  Maybe not so much of a plan but a nice, general guideline to help me through the year.  Maybe you would like to create one of your own.

One year, several bloggers I knew chose words that would provide some structure to their year.  They used that single word as a motto to drive their lives forward a bit.  It was a great idea.  But, I think that I will require more than a word this year.  I need a concept that encompasses more than a word.  I need a word and then a general way to keep that work working for me.

And I think I have it.  My word for 2014 will be (drumroll, please…….)  LESS.

Think of it….  Less Stress, Less Materialism, Less Clutter, Less Stress, Less Distractions, Less Fabric (gulp, there, I have said it…gotta use up what I have first), Less Meaningless Crap filling up the moments of my life.

simplicity creative commonsLess can definitely be MORE in 2014.

Clutter and organization is going to be an ongoing challenge since we moved 18 months ago in to much smaller surroundings.  Sometimes, it isn’t as though you have too much stuff as it is that it just can’t be all in the middle of the room and on display all of the time.

I am also seriously considering something called Project 333.   The goal of Project 333 is simple.  Live with 33 items of clothing for 3 months.  This includes shoes, clothes, accessories, and jewelry.  It excludes any sentimental jewelry you never take off (wedding ring?), sleepwear, workout wear (but only wear it to work out), underwear, and in home only lounge wear.

I even found this wonderful plan for making 56 outfits out of 10 key pieces from GoodWill.  Even if you don’t want to purchase your pieces from GoodWill or another thrift shop, you can still use the plan to fill in among your current favorite pieces to make a great wardrobe for yourself with just those 10 pieces!  That leaves you 23 pieces for shoes, accessories, jewelry, or just an extra dress or shirt or something fun.  The more I think about it, I have clothing that doesn’t go together or that doesn’t really fit well or make me feel great, so I don’t wear them.  I probably wear the same few things over and over and over.  Why keep the rest in the way so it is hard to find my favorites?

I also hope that by having fewer key pieces, as they wear out or need to be replaced, I can find nicer pieces (preferably made in the USA or somewhere without sweat shops) to replace them with.  Less stuff, more versatility, more wearability, less junky stuff that will just be thrown out.  I am definitely working toward more Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in my life.

Also, I am definitely working toward more healthy eating and less junky filler in my diet over the next year.  But, that is a post for another day.

So, what is your plan for 2014?  Will you join me in wanting LESS this year?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

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Great Kid Gifts!

One of my favorite blogs for finding great, budget friendly ideas is the One Hundred Dollars a Month blog by Mavis.  I love the projects, recipes, and ideas that I find there and this year has been no exception.  Because of my recent injury, much of my Christmas sewing ideas have flown right out of the window.  However, Mavis has had some stellar no-sew ideas this year and she has not let me down!

That being said, here is what I made for the students at the homeschooling co-op where my kids and I attend and teach, respectively.

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Another great idea from Mavis!

Ain’t it just too stinking cute?  What kid doesn’t like candy?  It isn’t a toy that will break or a doo-dad that needs to be stored and dusted and taken care of.  It’s just for fun and it is easy to do.  Check out the simple tutorial that Mavis posted here.  These could be really cute stocking stuffers or gifts for your kids to give their friends.

What cute Christmas crafts have YOU found on the internet lately?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

No Sew Christmas Gift Tutorial

While my errant shoulder continues to heal, I have been looking at a few more simple gifts to make and give. I have seen variations on this type of Christmas ornament over the years and decided that I would put my own spin on it. Please bear with the video below as it is my first video tutorial!

Hope you enjoyed this little gift idea. I think it would be lovely to use the ornament as a gift tag that can be a permanent reminder of the giver. Great to tie on the handle of a gift basket, too!

What crafts has your family been working on this Christmas?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Christmas Ornaments to Make

Okay, I can’t stand it! If I can’t make Christmas gifts and goodies, I can at least look and dream! I will be attempting to make some simple things, but I thought that while I was dreaming over swell new ideas, I would share them with you, too.

So, without further adieu, here are some really cool ornaments that I have found online to craft. If you make any of them, please share a photo with me. I’d love to see what everyone is up to!

This nifty ornament could almost double as a simple science experiment for a youngster:  http://www.marthastewart.com/269342/crystal-snowflake

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MarthaStewart.com

This one is a cutie, but I found it on Pinterest with no website information, but it looks pretty simple.

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Pinterest.com

Here is a super sweet set of little snowmen ornaments that I found on Pinterest, but again, no website information, so I can’t give any credit.

They look simple enough, maybe paint pens on ivory ball ornaments with a bit of twine?

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Pinterest.com

And a Santa ornament that is cute with the same problem.  I would love to give credit to the original idea, but I don’t know where it came from!  I bet this one could also be done with some black electrical tape and a silver glitter pen on a red ornament.   Personally, I am a sucker for ol’ Saint Nick at Christmastime, so this one really made me smile.

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Pinterest.com

 

I also have noticed that with the advent of some of the paint pens, that more and more ornaments say things like, “believe,”  “faith,” and “Christ” on them.  If you have nice handwriting, those could be lovely with a bow of pretty ribbon or twine attached to the top.  You could also (with a steady hand) paint a large Star of Bethlehem on a blue ball with striking results.  And don’t forget the old rustic stand by of twine, burlap, or muslin covered styrofoam balls.  Unbreakable and easy is a pretty cool combination in my house!  I also am liking some of the simple decoupage ornaments with old  book pages and aged sheet music.

The possibilities really are endless.  So, as I recuperate,

What ornaments are your family making this year?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett