Christmas Stress in Progress!

A case for Slow Christmas: 1. aim for personal peace, 2. write the No-Wish list, and 3. adopt The Game Changer rule of Slow Christmas.

The weeks before Christmas here in Germany, elsewhere in Europe, Canada and the States (as far as I know from my friends there) put us all in a state of artificial cognitive dissonance: we are trained to await a blissful time of contemplation and “peace to the world”, while in reality all we do is check off never-ending gift and to do lists.

However, there are three major things that have elevated, or rather: catapulted, my personal Christmas experience from “God, let it be over!” towards “I wish it was Christmas everyday” and I want to share them with you today. Don’t worry, they’re all very simple, efficient steps. I call them my Rules for a Slow Christmas.SlowChristmas2014

Slow Christmas Rule #1: Joy & Peace For Everyone

Enjoy whatever you enjoy doing.
It’s as simple as that. Christmas time is the last resort of the modern wo/man where we can be offline without shame or regret. Use the Force! Withdraw, unplug, go skiing, partying, SPA-ing, sleeping in, seeing your Grandma, maybe you’re as good as walking animal shelter dogs – just do whatever genuinely, deeply gives you so much joy and peace you could cry.

On a personal note: I will have truly egoistic couple-ish stay-in time most of the time. I believe it’s called “quality time”, thank you, marketing, for invading my private life.

Slow Christmas Rule #2: The No-Wish List

“What do you want for Christmas?”
Can you answer this question right away?
I have started to hate wish lists. Sure, they are a convenient, sensible way to avoid exchange and/or long faces but let’s be honest: haven’t they truly gotten out of hand?
However, I get it – we’re all busy and chronically not listening to our friends, and I’m no exception. I have a trick though, I (try to) take notes and oh my, does it get hairy when I fail to do so. But I’m trying and evolving. Anyway. It can be complicated to really unwind and tune into the magic flow of “perfect gift ideas” in today’s world.
So my way to try and shift the reality is write (and ask people to do so) No-Wish Lists. This can go something like:

My No-Wish List.
Dear X., please don’t give me: knitted sweaters. Socks. Gift certificates, except for iTunes. Cookbooks. Baking forms. Cookbooks with baking forms. Yoga DVDs. Frog figurines of any kind (I’ve never been collecting those!) Anything made of or with leather or fur. Anything white, pink, or neon coloured. Uh – no zebra prints.”

– I think something like this works great to just list all those things you somehow keep receiving, maybe out of a hoax or due to a misunderstanding, but have come to detest.

On a personal note: I don’t want STUFF. I’m trying to get all ascetic at home, so I can’t use anything I can’t eat or drink or read on an e-device of any kind or hang on a wall/ a Christmas tree. 

Slow Christmas Rule #3 AKA The Game-Changer:
Engage In One Thing

If you can pull off a wonderful dinner (or even dinners) for your family and friends, do just it.

If you know you can find crazy inventive and gorgeous gifts that people will adore, go for just it.

If you can write splendid, wise, original Christmas cards, get the best stationery and just write.”

I am not afraid to say this word: outsource 😀 Wisely, of course. We all have busy schedules, and to split tasks (in a fair and respectful way) among family members or a group of friends can be pure bliss, trust me on that. Just don’t do everything yourself.
Keep rule #1 in mind and try to get all the joy’n’peace you can celebrating Christmas.

On a personal note: I’m really good with cards when I do have time. When I don’t have the time to write thoughtful calligraphic messages, I stroll through my favourite little shops in Berlin and look for curious objects on the edge of healthy and crazy.

What are your best practices to have a Slow Christmas?
What would end up on your No-Wish list?


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

9 Responses

  1. BLYSS chocolate

    Through a social project we did on a tea and fruit farm in sri lanka, i was able to buy some great tea and dried fruits that was collected by the parents of a school we supported. In ireland, at another social project, i was presented with ‘chocolate art’ and paintings from the kids thankful for our giving. So i have decided to wrap up the tea and fruits from the sri lankan families, and the artwork from the irish kids, to give as my gift. It is literally ‘the fruits’ of a whole year of giving, and collected from heart. I think, that is what the giving season should summarise. Not just a one-off purchase at shop or amazon for another #dodad … but something that reflects our giving ethics, our year-round approach to being collaborative in the communities we are lucky to live. That i am fortunate to collect cacao in ecuador, and give thanks to fruit farms in sri lanka is exactly the the balanced eco system dimension of giving and gratitude, of sharing and being participatory. Viva la giving. Happy fruits and teas, art and gratitude. This, I am hoping, will ‘taste’ better than any store-bought, sweatshop made disposable gadget. Even though, it will be just a simple and small box. Am sure with my friends, they will feel my heart expand as they open it up. ❤

  2. Heather in Arles

    You know, for a couple of years now I have been on the Slow Christmas bandwagon. Growing up, the holiday was always the hugest deal – it would take hours for our family of four to open up all of the presents! Which was wonderful and really generous but…Nope. Now that I live in France things have slowed down of their own accord because here it is still much more about the food than the gifts. Fiiiiine by me! And with my family in the States, we have to be organized to send our presents in advance and once it is done, it is done. 🙂

    No wish list? Clothing that is not black, camel, grey or white. My wonderful Mom keeps trying, even after all these years to get me to wear color but it is just not going to happen any time soon…

      1. Heather in Arles

        We were in Arles the other day for a quick trip and I saw as I was leaving that they are putting the Christmas lights up! Hooooray!!!

        As for rituals, like I said it is all about the food here, so already Remi and I are talking about what we will cook for the night of the 24th. We are thinking about splurging for a goose – just for the two of us! When we lived in Arles we would often go to the Midnight Mass at St Trophime – part of which is in Provencal. Many of the ladies wear their finest silk Arlesienne costumes and there is a living Nativity procession with sheep and donkeys pulling carts! We don’t do the “13 desserts” because it is mainly dried fruits and nuts which we eat anyway but we DO get a buche de Noel aka a Yule Log. 🙂

          1. Heather in Arles

            This just shows how little I know about being vegan but does vegan ice cream exist? If so, there are plenty of buches made with ice cream instead of cake. Just a thought. 🙂

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