Christmas spirit

I don’t do Christmas cards…

Poinciana blooming

My tropical ‘Christmas Tree’ (Delonix regia), the Poinciana or Flamboyant Tree, flowering like mad for the festivities!

Not in any Grinch- or Scrooge-like way, snarling and disapproving of the waste, you understand. Christmas cards are one way for long-separated friends to reconnect briefly, even if it’s only once a year. No, it’s another reason altogether.

For about 8 years, I have not sent cards or given gifts at Christmas, and instead, have donated the money to charity. All my friends and family know this, and no-one feels neglected or left out or resentful. I ask them to donate money in my name instead of sending me a gift or card. They have, and do, and in this way, we have enlarged the circle of meaningful giving, instead of enriching the retailers and the post office, and sending trash to landfill. When the Husband and I got married, we agreed we’d do this together.

There is a great freedom from the tyranny of festive gift-buying; I don’t much like shopping (except in fabric shops!), and racking my brains for someone who really and truly has everything they need is an exercise in frustration. Instead, we have the pleasure of choosing a charity for our donation. For a couple of years now, we’ve given to Aussie Helpers, who provide animal feed and other supplies for desperate Australian farmers in drought-stricken areas. For many years, I gave to Oxfam, who have a gift scheme: wells, seeds, farm animals, small business loans, etc. Other family members have given to Food Bank, the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, and so on.

In our small way, we’ve snowballed, and the ripples are spreading. I explain the scheme to everyone who asks me how my Christmas preparations are coming along – and that’s a lot of people; Aussies are a sociable bunch. For some, it has struck a chord, and they may go home and think about it, and maybe even adopt the idea.

That’s the best Christmas present I could ask for…


36 thoughts on “Christmas spirit

  1. dayphoto says:

    What a great idea! As for your photo! I JUST LOVE YOUR TREE!


  2. Clare says:

    I love this idea. Less crap in my house and more $ to charity? Yes, please.

  3. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    I totally agree with you on this.

    • katechiconi says:

      It seems a very simple way of helping others. I very much dislike how we are all ‘expected’ to spend huge amounts of money on things that no-one really wants or needs.

  4. A beautiful spirit with a beautiful tradition.

  5. knitnkwilt says:

    I haven’t sent Christmas cards for years. One year I was so far behind that I “answered” my cards is February or so. Then I decided that was a good idea, and kept it up. People heard from me when they had time to read. Many answered my answers; some didn’t . Gradually Christmas cards stopped coming (must make lists like my mother did from last year’s cards). A few correspondences continue.

    • katechiconi says:

      I think we receive about three cards through the mail, and a few more given to us in person, but that’s it. By far the greatest response is to our annual eCard, with a bit of news personalised for each recipient. It’s good to know old friends are still around, even if we don’t have enough conversation for a weekly or monthly chat!

  6. I think you, we are on trend. There is a growing concensus that Christmas needs to be reinvented. Taken out if the auspices of retailers. And let people find a spirit & style of Christmas that is meaningful to them. I posted a rant re Christmas shopping acter our Skype conversation and got lots of support & suggestions for alternatives. Charity gift giving is becoming popular. So there’s my line drawn. And only a couple of selective Christmas cards sent this year. Once they were a nice tradition but staying in touch in person & via social media is more doable & personal now.

  7. We are in the minority that still sends real cards (I dislike the email ones and would rather have nothing), but my hubby and I spent some time this year discussing how much longer we plan to keep on doing it. Many of our reasons mirror yours – and the postage fees!

    • katechiconi says:

      I find it hard to know what to do with actual cards once Christmas is over. It seems wasteful and disrespectful to throw them away, but I can’t keep them year after year…

  8. tialys says:

    I won’t be watching the postbox for a card from you then 😉
    I think lots of people are of the same mind – we used to get around 60 cards a year and send about the same, so far this year we have 3. Apart from my blog I don’t really ‘do’ social media and some of the relatives and ex-neighbours etc. back in the U.K. are getting on and don’t use it anyway so it’s nice to say ‘hello’ to them every now and again and Christmas is a reminder to do so.
    In France, Christmas cards have not been a ‘thing’ but I’ve noticed they are creeping into the shops now – I bought a pack of cards produced for the Croix Rouge this year so they are jumping on the bandwagon a little late.
    Since moving away from the U.K. my present list has dwindled and those I do give, are generally handmade or bought at fund raising events. The things I buy for Mr. T and the girls are genuinely things they need or will be useful and I usually buy those things online because, if you go ‘real’ shopping, that’s when you get distracted by the tat and unnecessaries and have to suffer the same old Christmas songs trotted out every year which is O.K. once or twice but imagine working in a shop over the festive period – wouldn’t you be driven mad?

    • katechiconi says:

      I think the needle of acquisition has swung too far into the red. If gifts are to be given, I prefer the idea of one per person, to which all contribute. But as a family, we know that we don’t really ‘need’ anything we can’t already buy for ourselves. I do like to make gifts and give them outside the giving season; there’s no expectation of a return, which I find a much better way to give!

  9. Thimberlina says:

    I’ve not sent any this yet, but normally only send 1 or 2 to family that I don’t see too often, and make a donation to whichever charity the golf club is suppporting. It’s the Yorkshire Air Ambulance this year.

  10. Kirsten says:

    I know a few people who do this too. I tend to either make cards or buy ones that give proceeds to charity. I do like the scheme where instead of giving a gift to someone you buy something for someone else whose need is greater. One year my parents bought a goat for someone in Africa. Much better and more useful than a gift that will get shoved in a cupboard somewhere!

    • katechiconi says:

      Over the years, I must have bought a small flock of goats, a couple of wells, a large flock of chickens, several pigs, three or four complete vegie gardens-worth of seeds, and so on. It’s fun to match the gift to the person you’re giving for!

  11. kathyreeves says:

    We quit cards awhile back, and do gifts with only us for quite some time too. I prefer making something special for a person and giving it to them no matter what the time of year. Your tree is amazing, and perfect for these darkest days up north. 😊

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m with you on the giving out of season… I’m planning to take some more photos of our Christmas colour, especially the hot pink bougainvillea combined with the scarlet poinciana!

  12. Debbierose says:

    Lovely idea Kate. All excellent causes

  13. Lynda says:

    Loving your big heart, Kate! The Poinciana tree is stunning. ❤

  14. We do the same for the same reasons. For many years we have supported Practical Action, and last year we also gave to Tools for Self-reliance. This year I’ve given some money to Knit for Peace who are supporting women in refugee camps to knit and crochet both for themselves and as a source of income… they are sending yarn and equipment. Like you, we ask for others to give donations to their chosen charity instead of buying for us – Oxfam is always popular. Like you, removing ourselves from ‘the tyranny of festive gift-buying’ has made this time of year much more enjoyable too!

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m finding myself more and more infuriated by the overblown commercialism of some retailers. Really, do we need to start seeing Christmas decorations and products in September? Are we really stupid enough to buy into a guilt trip if we don’t “make this the best Christmas ever”? It feels good to take a step back and refuse the nonsense 🙂

  15. Love it! My family hopefully will adopt this concept too.

  16. anne54 says:

    I have never been into Christmas cards, and didn’t bother this year, only received a few. I think your idea is wonderful. I still buy presents for my family, but with a difference….this year I bought a whole lot of plants (blueberries, mints, kangaroo paw, a few other natives etc) from an environment group at CERES, and let people chooses the one they wanted. Luckily all my family enjoy gardening and they were delighted with being able to choose. No worries if someone didn’t want to have one. Last year I made a range of little sketchbooks, and again everyone choose the one they wanted. No unnecessary wrapping paper, frantic trips to the shopping centres. Have a lovely, relaxed Time, Kate, and a happy, healthy 2017. Xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      And the same to you, Anne, and the Fella. I can’t believe how close Christmas Day is now; I have to go on a prawn-hunting mission tomorrow, as I suspect I’ve left it too late for the Seafood Co-op Market…

  17. Me too. I haven’t sent cards for fifteen years. Gifts went to foster children this year.

    • katechiconi says:

      Of all the forms of waste we perpetrate at Christmas, I dislike cards and wrapping paper most. I like the *idea* of Christmas greetings, but an emailed version is so much less wasteful, both of natural resources and money which could be put to better use. Thanks for commenting!

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