What do you actually want when you’re two months of age? Nothing more than milk, a nap and a clean bum. That’s achievable! And perhaps we ought to keep it at that? No other gifts if he gets everything he needs.
But I do sense that we have some grandparents who have been looking forward to this. And so have I, for sure. Been looking forward to his first Christmas – but for me it’s not the presents for him. It’s the fact that he lives with us! Also at Christmas! I’ve been dreaming of that for years. Being a small family.
Spoiling their grandkids is grandparents’ lot in life, however. With kisses, undivided attention, sugary snacks (like at my grandmother’s) and ice cream. And also good birthday gifts and Christmas gifts – perhaps even advent calendars, with or without gifts attached?
More than ever before, though, I do think about how unsustainable Christmas tends to be in Denmark. This is in part due to the media attention given to the dire consequences of Christmassy consumerism, but also due to the fact that I have a responsibility as a parent now. And I want to give my child a basic sense of gratitude and appreciation for what he has (a lesson he’s obviously too young to understand now).
I really feel super worried about the world in which my child is growing up. Not so much due to wars and terror – but due to the climate changes and environmental damages facing his generation (yesterday, I swallowed all four episodes of this genius Norwegian documentary show; Planet Plast). Because of my grandparents, my parents and me. Because of our consumerism, our ability to just do what we want; jetsetting, use-and-throw-away, red steaks every Friday, etc.
This year, I’ve generally taken a lot of steps – cut out all other milk than what I use for my coffee, gone 90 % vegetarian, etc. And I’ve become aware of how we can change things for Christmas. Christmas trees are definitely not super sustainable – but I’d hate to miss it, so we’re going for the most sustainable variety, an organic fir. They grow quickly and require the least bit of help to grow. All gift wrapping will be saved; an example of a good reusable variety is this one. Giving less gifts is a winner as well. Games like White Elephant is one of the worst things. Really! All kinds of plastic crap, which no one wants, and all of that wrapping paper, which is just thrown out afterwards. I’ve gone so far this year as to buy an eternity door-wreath and advent wreath. I’m sure there’s still progress to be made, but at least I’ve embarked on my own Christmas awakening.
But what about Eddie’s? Do my ideological thoughts have to affect him? I kind of feel like limiting it to one gift per grandparent. One gift per sibling. Etc. I just don’t want to end up with the usual gift craze, where the child is just ripping apart gift wrapping paper without even sensing what’s hiding within. But also to decrease the consumption – I know that he doesn’t need anything. And all of this is very well this year – he can’t even see the Christmas tree – but what about next year? And when he’s five? When cousins start tearing gifts apart, and he’s left with three pieces. Will my ideologies affect him? Would anyone take pity on him?
I read a great article by Frede on the same dilemma, if you’re interested. And in the comments section, a reader offered this fine little gifting rule:
Something you want and something you need, Something to wear and something to read
In effect, four little gifts in total. I actually like that idea. How to do it in practice – do you assign clothes to one grandparent and a book to another? It may turn into something quite transactional, which also isn’t that charming…
Right, I haven’t quite figured it out and would love to hear your clever thoughts – how do you go about it in your families? In terms of siblings, cousines / nephews / nieces or your own kids.
I gravitate towards practical gifts this year – because he’s grown so quickly and already is on his way from his third size into a fourth. From size 44, about to outgrow size 56. That’s expensive! And if I were to think a bit more longterm, what would benefit him and us the most, would be contributing to his piggy bank or saving up for a holiday together, all three. But money is just boring for Christmas. Or maybe a contribution to a Sonos for his room so we can dance around and listen to music together? If I were to go for books, I’m quite into the Little People, Big Dreams series. I first learned about them in New York last winter, and now they’ve been translated into Danish!
When he’s a bit bigger, I’m thinking that a shelter trip with my mum would be a dream, as well as going fishing on my dad’s boat. I’m also thinking that an annual zoo membership could be lovely this year – but we’ve still got a gift certificate from our wedding for that, which we’ve saved until having kids (<3).
- 100 % sustainable bed from Kalon Studios, which he’ll benefit from for years, as the sides can be dismounted one by one until it’s a daybed (FSC-certified maple and non-toxic oil and loose parts)
- Organic onesie from Co.Label produced in Italy
- Organic onesie from ARKET (add link, I’ve got them in sizes 50 and 56, and it’s top quality!)
- Christmas plate from his birth year from Royal Copenhagen – a small gift, I’m thinking to give all of the kids I might be gifted
- Handmade leather moccasins in vegetable tanned leather YUME
- Organic fabric photo album from Liewood for small photographs of family and friends
- A small boat in natural rubber for the tub from Oli & Carol
- Organic woollen elephant hat from Engel
- Certified woollen bonnet from ARKET (add link)
- Organic woollen suit from Engel – we have to have one in the next size up as well; we use it all the time