20 December 2010

Thriftmas, re-gifting, and a little beth ditto... plus somehow a little jesus and patriarchal santa talk.

Me, this morning, before the outing, waiting for my partner to finish up his Arabic final. We're both finally done with all work this semester -- he'll be going back after the holiday for a few more, but for now, I'm trying to rustle up some gainful-type employment.

(If Santa talk/Jesusy stuff bores you/doesn't apply please skip the next couple of paragraphs. I realize Christmas isn't ubiquitous.)

I've been a little stressed about the holidays. Primarily religious holidays weird me out because they mean such different things of such varying intensity to people. Religion and consumerism all tied up and messy together -- almost vying for dominance. I get into the holidays in what I think is, now, a pretty secular way. I like to decorate (with as few Santas as possible, and pretty slim chances of a Jesus sighting) and make things cheerful because I was socialized to do it. We're don't really "do"Santa with our kid, and at this age, that's something of a concern for his grandparents (one set, I think, is more worried about the lack of Jesus than the lack of Santa). Don't get me wrong, Santa is a part of Christmas: I think, in a way, it would be pretty foolish of me to think I could totally isolate Baby J from a culture that holds a particularly strong regard for that specific fairy tale. Plus, I'm not advocating this decision for everybody with kids. It's a choice to be made, as any other. But, for me and mine, it's a story, you know? I never tell Baby J that Santa's coming to our house or bringing us presents, but neither did I set fire to the little wind-up marching Santa my mom gave him last Christmas. The family and friends in our lives who are so good to us (and who we are, in turn, hopefully just as good to in our better moments) work hard to give gifts to each other, and to us, at Christmas. I don't want to belittle the work they do, and the meaning of those real gifts, by perpetuating this unnecessary myth of a patriarchal figure who has the resources to give "every" kid in the world Christmas gifts. (Every meaning ... not every. Not by a long shot.)

Plus, we're not particularly religious people. I think of Jack, my partner, as being incredibly spiritual--more than I am--but we're not church-y, and  I am strongly not Christian-y. I dig on Jesus because he had a strong political message that I can almost totally get behind (I mean, specifically, Jesus; not the followers who developed the church, but the man himself). But I hesitate to overtly connect Jesus to Christmas right away; I want Baby J to have a chance to learn about Jesus without thinking he's the reason we all get presents and cookies and time off work. I mean, that's kind of strong marketing to kids, isn't it? Once a year (if you're lucky and have particular class/financial privileges required), you get all these presents and tasty foods, and your parents get to actually spend a little time with you. To a lot (though certainly not all) kids, that's an appealing premise. It's just such a huge facking world out there, and somehow I want to show Baby J as much of it as I can as clearly as possible.

Anyway, the title mentions thrifting and I said something up there about an outing. My faboo little brother took me to Goodwill so I could try and get in on a little 99 cent action. I have a tiny budget, but I was able to pick up a couple of things for my mom and a super awesome friend of mine. (I call her my patronus. Yes, she is that awesome.) For better or worse, my mom is a bit of a pack rat. I hesitate to call her a hoarder, but she's got a pretty serious stuff-collection. I was able to find things (a lot of them new/barely used) to re-gift for my partner's family -- plus all the giftwrap/bags/ribbons necessary to pretty them up. I had a good time, but all the stores close early here on Sundays, so brother and I (and possibly partner and sprout) are thrifting yet again in the morning.

On another note, I set foot into a Faith 21 for the first time today. Please do not think me a snob, but hot googly damn, that place isn't for me. Could be my ugh-a-mall syndrome speaking to me, though. Either way, I made it out without buying anything (even though lots of the clearance was comparable to non-sales day thrift prices, it was just such a mess and the music was so goozy I couldn't hack it; I'm a wimp).

This is what I wore today - my thrift tribute to Beth Ditto's most recent season at Evans. Please excuse my photo-awkwardness and defensive slouch. Everything here is thrifted besides the tights and the skirt, which is from Old Navy's cretaceous period.

The solstice is upon us! So happy whatever-makes-you-happy this time of year, or just, you know, hope you're doing well regardless.



  1. Thanks for your post. Some really interesting topics here. I tend to see the card giving, pressent frenzy and shopping maddness the perfect marketing destraction to the real reason for Christmas. Christmas is today a mostly a 'social' hoilday, celebrated by believers and non alike. Most non belivers (I use the word 'believer' rather than religious) will mostly remove the 'baby Jesus' and celebrate the Santa, the presents and the reindeer- a marketable Christmas. But the real truth is, the reason for Christmas (believer or not) is for celebrating that Jesus was born. People who arn't religous (or have any faith in Jesus himself) join the millions of others, to whom Christmas is just about shopping, eating and family (all good things in themsleves!) Perhaps you could reduce the whole
    'consumer' spin on Christmas by keeping Jesus in the picture; you know, explain to Baby J that there was this guy called Jesus who was born a couple thousand years ago, and he had some pretty revolutionary ideas about how the world should be, about how to treat other people, how to be human. It doesn't have to be a 'religious' thing if thats not what you believe, but you could talk about him like the man he was, perhaps share some of his parables that are particulaly meaningful to you. I guess this way, you are taking the 'religoness!' out and teaching something of truth, of use, that Christmas isn't just about spending and getting lots of presents, but about being with family, caring for other people, forgivness and joy.

    Hope you take this in the way it was offered. I really liked your post and the conversation it opened up.

    Love the Jumper too!!

  2. Also, sorry, side note! perhaps you could ask your lovely friends to give gifts from themselves rather than from Santa. That you want Baby J to be able to thank them for their thoughtful giving?

  3. Hey, thanks for commenting! I hope you take my answer in the spirit it is intended as well, especially since I get a bit long winded in there. :P

    To answer your second comment first, our friends don't gift presents from Santa (they may for their own children, but not for Baby J). Not because we have any "rules" set up about it, but because that's just how it works out. It's not that I worry Baby J will be unable to tell who presents are coming from, rather I don't want to set up this false idea in his mind that there is someone (who in our culture is typically a white man) totally willing and able to give him presents. If Baby J gets presents, I always want him to know that presents come from real people and real people's work and love for him.

    We don't really actively avoid talking about Jesus in the house. We do avoid mystifying Jesus, and conflating Jesus with Christianity. Although the words that can be attributed to Jesus in the New Testament are few indeed, many of them are quite compelling. But as far as the real truth about Christmas -- it's an appropriated pagan holiday (Saturnalia from Rome, Yule from Germanic peoples).
    In winter, when food can be scarce and weather fierce, people from all sorts of cultures and religious (or non-religious) have always craved a reason to celebrate. In our particular culture, we're socialized into the tradition of Christmas. Pretty much whatever reason anyone chooses to celebrate it (or not celebrate it) is acceptable (to me).

    Annnnyway, ahem, that got long. Basically, as Baby J develops (he will be 3 in February), we will increase the complexity of the information about different customs and traditions to share will him. I hesitate to start with Jesus exclusively because I do not want Baby J to see the Jesus/Christianity myths perpetuated by typical mainstream Christianity as having any superior hierarchal position in regard to any other belief systems. We talked about Hanukkah, for example, in a brief and simple way, and try to talk about any holiday popping up that people might celebrate.


  4. Merry/happy christmas/holiday to you and yours. i hope you all have a great time and can relax a bit, eat some good food, and enjoy being together!

    I went thrifting the other day for christmas presents and didn't have much luck - I'm glad you did!

    Aldo, good luck on the gainful employment!

  5. Thanks Rebecca! Hope you have a lovely holiday as well.

    Thrifting can be seriously hit-or-miss, but it's a lot of fun.

  6. Thanks Rebecca! Hope you have a lovely holiday as well.

    Thrifting can be seriously hit-or-miss, but it's a lot of fun.

  7. Also, sorry, side note! perhaps you could ask your lovely friends to give gifts from themselves rather than from Santa. That you want Baby J to be able to thank them for their thoughtful giving?