By Sandy Nicholson
While living in Toronto years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to take ourselves out of the gifting part of Christmas. It wasn’t that we didn’t like to give our friends and loved ones presents, but more that we started to get overwhelmed by the commercialization of Christmas and the inevitable credit card bill that came along with it. Most people in our lives were used to our crazy ideas by this time and accepted that we were not going to be a part of the usual gift giving and family Christmas draws. Instead, we 'adopted' a family for the holidays and were able to bring some cheer to a family who might not otherwise have gotten gifts at Christmas. This felt right for us. We continued this non-gifting tradition for many years until we had kids. As most of you probably know, kids change everything. We were now back on the gifting train of Christmas, but just for kids. Every year we re-evaluate and make some exceptions here and there, but still try to focus on spending time with friends and family instead of gifting. We have occasionally adopted traditions from other cultures, including the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve, and I have also tried to follow the 'four gift rule' – something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read – all while trying to shop small and local. As I get older, more than ever I prefer giving gifts of experiences, books, local artisanal items and consumables, like tea.
Recently, while discussing what our family Christmas was going to look like this year, my son and my nephew both admitted that the holiday isn’t about presents at all for them (anymore, at least). All they care about is getting together as a family (and eating lots of food – they are growing teenage boys). As new updates and recommendations come almost daily from our Chief Public Health Office, we now know that our Christmas is going to look very different this year. Our family from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are most likely not going to be able to join us, and we have to be careful to keep our circle small. I am thinking of the Lady Baker’s Tea slogan Take time for what matters. To me, what matters this holiday season is that friends and family, near and far, are safe. I look forward to the times when we can be together again and share meals and cups of tea. For now, I will be sticking close to home with my immediate family and enjoying many pots of tea, while working on puzzles, watching shows, reading books and listening to music. I am going to try to count my blessings for all that we have while enjoying our time together.
I am also very cognizant of the fact that dear friends and family who have lost loved ones are going to be celebrating Christmas without them this year, making an already difficult time that much harder. My heart is with all of them as they navigate these challenging times.
So, a wish for all of you, our valued friends and customers, for peace and comfort this holiday season, whatever your beliefs and whatever you might celebrate. I hope that you are able to take time for what matters. And a hope for a better year in 2021. Be kind and stay safe!