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Let’s reveal & reject all the shitty parts of Christmas-season consumerism & sexism
Every year, I’m like:
“YEAH! This is the year we’re gonna DO CHRISTMAS TO THE MAX! I’m gonna create so much friggin’ warm and joyous memories, the Earthquakes will be hardcore resilient for the rest of their lives!”
“THIS IS THE YEAR we will start sustainable family traditions. THIS IS THE YEAR I’m gonna start sending Christmas cards and deepen friendships! THIS IS THE YEAR we’re gonna PUMP UP THE GENEROSITY and schmaltz it up to 11!”
And then I pull together some shitty DIY cookies or whatever, run out of steam, and do a big online order of plastic garbage because I’m too tired to Christmas any farther.
But what I’ve figured out after trying to do a decade of CHRISTMAS TO THE MAX!!!!**, is that the less I scramble to keep up with ‘mom’ responsibilities for the holiday, the more fun we all have.
So over in Bumblebee Hollow, this upcoming Christmas will focus on our basic staples: thoughtful giving, receiving with appreciation, and keeping our heads above the snow.
When is it?
- 25th of December
- Tree of Cranes (ages 4+)
- The Tomtes’ Christmas Porridge (ages 4+)
- The King of Too Many Things (ages 4-8)
- Little Sid (ages 4-8)
- The Better Tree Fort (ages 4-8)
- The Table Where Rich People Sit (ages 6+)
Discuss: Invisible Labor & The Tomtes’ Christmas Porridge
The English translation of The Tomtes’ Christmas Porridge is a bit jarring, referencing the man of the house as ‘master’ – which has some nasty connotations in American English (re: slavery). Discuss with your kids!
Beyond that – this story creates an opportunity to talk about emotional and invisible labor. Specifically – how the mother tomte has to run herself ragged to protect her husband’s fragile ego.
The story also reinforces a gender binary and implies ridiculous magic powers that come as a part of pooping out a baby, suggesting female tomtes have foresight magic that men lack. But with the right spin, we were able to discuss how this ‘like all mother tomtes’ situation reflects a cultural tendency to dump all of the invisible labor of orchestrating holidays on women – on mothers in particular – and how this ‘ability’ could be a skill developed by demand and survival in a sexist world, rather than biology.
- What does the porridge symbolize? (Recognition, appreciation, respect, reciprocity)
- Why is it important to Papa that we recognize his hard work?
- Who else in the Tomte family works hard?
- Who does NOT get recognition for their hard work?
- Why is it that only mother tomtes have the job of knowing what is important and urgent?
- Do women have a natural biological ability to pay more attention? Or are they nurtured and raised to pay attention?
- How does it feel when your hard work goes unrecognized and unappreciated?
- Why did Papa throw a fit & hold a grudge when he didn’t feel appreciated?
- Who did Papa take out his hurt on?
- How did Papa’s reaction force Mama to work harder to protect his feelings next time?
- Whose responsibility is it to manage our behavior when we are upset?
- Why do we assume men are too weak and fragile to work without recognition?
- What ‘invisible’ work is each member of our family expected to do? What are the consequences to them if they don’t keep up?
Resources to create a better Christmas:
- Christmas Stories for Secular Families
- Stories on Post-Consumerism for Kids
- Overcoming False Scarcity & Xenophobia with ‘Shelter’
- Appreciating hand-me-downs with ‘A Fire Truck Named Red’
- Santa Narratives & Origin Stories
- Comic for kids 9+ and adults: the Mental Load
- Raising Luminaries Podcast: How the Earthquakes Cancelled Christmas
- How to limit advertising influence on your kids
- Gathering with family causing holiday stress? Listen to the Come Back to Care podcast on How my Parents & I are breaking our family cycles together
**No judgement if you still love to do CHRISTMAS TO THE MAX!!!!! It’s not my thing, but if it brings you joy, BRING ALL THE CHRISTMAS.
Unless your family has reached a state of enlightenment or you’ve managed to extricate yourself from a community saturated in capitalism and reciprocity, you’re probably going to have to participate in the whole gift-giving ordeal just to lubricate your social life for the next 12 months. So here we go, our old comprehensive list of gifts: The Books For Littles Gift guide.