Tuesday, December 04, 2012

"Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions"

Collage by Lani, wisdom by Papaya Art
It's that time of year again, when Spirit and Material seem to clash so amazingly.  We have the joy of the season; sharing good food, music, and time with neighbors and family and then there's this strange market driven panic about getting and consuming, and is it conspicuous enough, and will someone think badly of me if I don't go into debt for the holiday.  Every year this aspect of the holiday season seems to get a little more intense.  Now it really feels like everything else is pushed aside and we are supposed to consume in order to support our various nation's economies.  (And that word "economy" needs to be spoken with a certain amount of reverence, in hushed tones.)

So I'm in a bit of a radical mood here, I'm ready to take back my Christmas holiday from the marketers and big box stores.  I'm all for Occupying the Holiday Season.  I'm getting ready to create my own "Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions" (the idea is actually borrowed from some holiday junk mail that came from the Zen Mountain Monastery.  There's a DVD on Oryoki, the formal monastery meal, with Master Dogen's instructions for a miraculous occasion.)  Well, the way I figure it, we can all create our own miraculous occasions, and I'm going to start with the holidays.  I want my holiday to be the opposite of mass, conspicuous consumption.  I'd love to create meaning, joy, creativity, and delight.  I'm currently in search of the contents for my "Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions" and the search is actually a blast!

One place I looked was over at American Dream, specifically their "Beyond Consumerism" page.  They have a great little PDF about simplifying the Holidays.  GREAT ideas in this PDF and it's free.  First are some serious questions:
1. Does your usual celebration focus on those aspects of the holiday that you feel are most important?
2. Which parts of your celebration would be the easiest to change so that you could spend more time on the things that are most meaningful for you?
3. Which activities could you scale back to reduce stress?
4. Where can you enlist help to make tasks easier and more fun?  (One of my favorite holiday memories was making Christmas tree ornaments with my sisters; listening to carols, laughing, and enjoying each others' company.  It was a way to share the task of holiday decoration and it was fun!)
5.Which activities do you find particularly enriching, and worthy of more time and effort?
So these are great questions and pretty easy to answer.

Now here comes my favorite activity so far in this search for contents for my "Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions" also from this great little PDF.
The idea is to create admiration booklets for family, and since one of my favorite things in the world is creating books, booklets, altered books, and zines, I can totally see the amazing fun this could be.  Here's how they describe it:
One year, my immediate family (parents and siblings) decided
that we really didn’t need to buy each other gifts. So instead,
we all wrote something we love or admire about each other. I
collected these comments and created a little booklet for each
person containing all of the comments. At our get-together,
each person got a booklet of all of the qualities that people
like about them. I love this idea because it really allows you to
express your admiration and support for the people you love.
It’s a great keepsake and it definitely brought us together more
than a new pair of slippers would!
—Kindle Fahlenkamp-Morell  

So that's the beginning of my Occupation of the Holidays and the "Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions".  I will continue my research and post hear so stay tuned!


Inner Artist said...


D.J. Pass said...

At the suggestion of my son Chuck, we are having a regifting Christmas. We will give each other things we already have.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Love the Affirmation Booklet... lots of great resources and ideas here- Thanks for sharing these... Happy researching!

Deborah said...

Keep this coming! I love your vibe.

NM_Creatrix said...

This is a GREAT post. I have been waging my own personal war against the "Consumerist Christmas" madness that has become Christmas. This is a thoughtful and artistic post about how you can take steps to change it. I am posting about this on my blog, and will follow the unfolding of this very closely. Lets Occupy Christmas!

pvenditti said...

I've relayed this to many family members and thank you so much for the good ideas of your own and others'.