For the past few years I’ve been working on reclaiming xmas. I didn’t realize this is what I was doing until recently, when I told myself, “It’s time to reclaim xmas!” and I thought about all the small changes I’ve been making to the rituals I choose to participate in during what can be a tumultuous season of consumerism.
Four years ago, my partner for life and I started a new tradition in our home. The xmas time capsule. On December 25, 2011 we gathered items from around our home and placed them in a box, wrote cards and letters of reflection to each other, and closed up the box—a gift to our 2021 selves. Each year since then, we’ve spent time together on Christmas Day, reflecting and packing away tchotchkes that reflect events and interests from the past year. This ritual has come to hold more weight than new gift giving and receiving.
A couple of years after the xmas time capsule tradition began, a xmas cube found its way into our home. More cheerful than a Festivus pole, our xmas cube was constructed by my husband, who initially used it as part of a prototype for a project he was working on. Rather than trashing the thing, we threw some lights and ornaments on it (and later a White Walker–what says winter is here more than that?). I especially love the xmas cube for its size. It doesn’t disrupt the Feng shui of our home and stores easy once xmas is over.
I brought up our one and only cardboard box labeled “XMAS” from the basement the other day and resolved to never have more xmas decorations or ornaments than can fit in that single box. In that moment I managed to tame the beast and freeze it to forever being nothing more than a cute little baby beast. Relief! Literally. A big sigh of it.
Two of the newest items in our box of xmas decorations are beautiful (and ginormous) stockings embroidered by my stepmom. She gifted them to my husband and me over the past couple of years and now they will hang on our mantle each December. I appreciate the time and love she poured into the stockings, and have been thinking a lot about how to incorporate them into a reclaimed version of xmas. Traditionally in my family, the stocking served as the appetizer of gift time. A warm up to the main event. And because of this, I think I probably sped right through the plastic candy canes full of chocolate kisses and whatever else (see? I don’t remember) was in my stocking as a kid. I think the stockings may serve as the main event for our reclaimed xmas. Like the single XMAS box of decorations, the stockings serve as physical visuals of containment. If I don’t contain consumerism, it’ll contain me.
Reclaimed xmas is an evolving process that happens in a dogma free zone. Maybe next year we’ll incorporate a winter solstice celebration—holla to longer days filled with light!