Every year, as the holiday season approaches, I start feeling a little bit of anxiety building up inside of me. As soon as the decorations start popping up on window displays and christmas carols blast from every store, I start to prepare mentally and emotionally, so I can survive another Christmas.
It’s not like I am the Grinch or have anything against the holidays. I actually love this time of year. What I don’t love are the pressures of consumerism and excess that I sometimes experience for 25 days every December.
Every year, I tell myself I am going to do things differently. I am not going to stress out trying to buy things that may or may not end up in a landfill, and focus on doing meaningful things instead. Each year, I try my best to find special gifts for special people, brace for the crowds of crazed holiday shoppers, and without fail, end up feeling a bit of a holiday hang-over come December 26.
This year, we are doing things differently. We are re-thinking this holiday season and focusing on what it’s really about. For this, I had to think back of when I was growing up, when I first learned the meaning behind this season. Back then, I was told Christmas was a time of preparation for change. We prepare to receive good news, to welcome love in our hearts. In order to be ready to receive love, we start spreading love to those around us. I edited all of the unnecessary religious stuff that no longer resonates with me. But this, the core of it -love, change, giving- that’s something we can really embrace this season.
Interestingly enough, this is the first year I really don’t wish for anything material. I say interestingly, when I should probably say miraculously. I am a recovering consumerist, and historically, Christmas has been a time when I would enjoy writing mental notes to Santa of all the things I would like to get for myself and receive from others. Although I’ve never asked for anything extravagant (that’s never been my thing), I’ve never been known to say no to any type of footwear (except Uggs, Crocs and any kind of toe-shoe).
This year, I am proud to say I don’t crave anything that can be bought in a store. For reals.
I already I have so much! I feel incredibly blessed this year. I am beyond lucky to live in peace, both internally and externally. I live in a country that values compassion, generosity and kindness, and that views all humans as equals. My immediate family and loved ones are healthy. I am married to the love of my life, and we are as in love with each other than we were in our first date. I have the privilege to live a creative & meaningful life.
Of course, our lives aren’t perfect (trust me). I do have a wish list for this holiday season, and lots of intentions for 2016. That said, the things I would put on my Santa list today are taller orders than a new pair of shoes, and you can’t get that at Nordstrom. For example, continuous health for me and others, less fear and more courage, balance, never-ending financial security for us all.
Whatever our views, the last thing we want is to impose our beliefs on others, and we do appreciate giving, togetherness, family and love. So this year, we have made a commitment to minimize what we buy, but not what we give. We will focus on making gifts, instead of consuming. We will try to spend more time with friends and family. And finally, whatever gifts we buy, we will go out of our way to only purchase in small local shops, to support small business owners.
If you are on our nice list this year, these are some of the places where we plan on doing our local holiday shop from:
This is my first stop whenever I need clothing and/or shoes. I've been visiting El Kartel since their early days on Robson St (over 6 years ago!), and I'd like to think we've grown up together. Their newest location in Chinatown is the best yet. I still love everything in the store, but especially, the rad art, music and store staff. Whenever I visit, I seriously feel like I am visiting family.
I was introduced to this trio of beautiful shops by Geoff. Before we dated, I remember him telling me about these shops in Deep Cove that he thought I would really like. He wasn't wrong. They are located in one of the most beautiful parts of the city, and they are always stocked with the most beautiful products, often made by local artists. All three have the same owners, who -besides having great taste- are really awesome people. I don't think we've ever left the stores without bringing something with us, whether to wear or for home. These are great places to find one-of-a-kind gifts or treats for yourself.
If I ever became a shop owner, I would like a store like Dandelion Records. Half record shop, half gift shop, entirely unique and awesome. It's run by a husband and wife, and everything they select is perfect. Geoff is especially in love with their leather goods. I love their industrial/vintage decorations, like our cement/Edison bulb night table lamps.
If you are in Vancouver, allow us to rave about these shops. They are our favourite spots in the city and not only do they have the coolest gifts, they are also owned by beautiful people.
Whether you are in Vancity or anywhere else, we strongly encourage you to shop small and support a local store this holiday season.
Wishing you all a stress-free, meaningful, loving, awesome Christmas. We are sending you all the good vibes, magic dust and awesome juju your way!