Oh Christmas, how I do love you so. You warm me up in the warm or snowy winters with mulled wine, fuzzy socks, and thoughtful gestures gifted throughout a month-long festive celebration that brings friends and family together in all types of events: big, small, intimate, elaborate, creative, and more.
I’ve had the most beautiful opportunities to spend Christmas all over the globe in so many different types of settings and with people. From age 17-22 I spent all but one Christmas with my grandmother in Mexico. She lived alone and didn’t like going out to family gatherings much anymore and so I made sure she didn’t spend it alone. Then I spent Christmas in Korea from ages 23-25 (2xChristmas) with friends who’ve become family and ages 26-27 (2xChristmas) in China with old and new international friends. Finally at age 28 and 29 I spent Christmas in LA with family. And they have all been great, different, and the same.
Great because the settings have varied: sleepovers, parties, early nights, hungover mornings, cookies and hot cocoa mornings, travels, and more.
Great because they each centered around the same values: expressions of love, family, and house-filled joy. I’m thinking back to Christmas 2019 waking up to cook an elaborate breakfast with my international family (Charne, Nats, and Livi) opening our house presents, and unpacking our individual stockings which we all secretly filled. It was the best and funniest morning opening up packages of fun-messaging underwear and avocado fluffies, Cass beers, and hand-written notes that filled our hearts and souls in a land geographically so far and distant from our perspective homelands (UK, SA, USA).
But one thing has changed. Stuff. So much stuff in my closet. So much stuff in the garbage bins. So many donated clothes and shoes in brand-new condition. So much stuff. Frankly, I absolutely love stuff, and I’m also sick and tired of stuff.
So what now? Christmas isn’t ending and I don’t want those lovely gestures presented through gifts to end either. I still want to show people I love them but also don’t have the same time or money or interest in gifting more stuff, especially when I know they also don’t need any of the things I can think to gift.
So last year, I used my little bitty skills to write. I wrote a handful of intimate, personal letters and sent them out to friends all over the US, Korea, China, the UK, and South Africa. Turned out my SA friends never received it. I blame their postal services as they’re notorious for being a bit or a lot faulty.
For one I didn’t have any money to spare as I was a full-time student and basically unemployed and I was in the middle of cleaning out my stuff so I didn’t feel like gifting stuff if I was in a period where I disliked stuff. It didn’t feel like me. Even though the gifts would not be for me I still felt like they needed to have a little bit of me in them. My writing was the next best thing.
The letters consisted of a list of things, anywhere from 1-4 pages, of moments shared, laughs we’ve had, ways they inspire me, things I admire about them, and how impactful their enterance into my life has been till this day. It was a therapeutic process writing all the grand and emotional feelings that sit deep in my heart and are a part of the make-up of myself. I’m not all that great at being vulnerable about my inner most feelings in person as I can get awkward so being able to express my inner most gratitude to the people who have deeply impacted my life was a gift I didn’t know I needed.
In the next few weeks, I’d be reminded how impactful those little personalized notes were. I came to the conclusion that Christmas, birthdays, or any other gift-giving holiday shouldn’t always be centered around material gifts. Sure, gifts are great! But it doesn’t mean it’s necessary in order to express your love and appreciation to your loved ones. I like this sentiment better.
This year, for some reason my lips and skin have been dryer than in previous years during this time. And the more and more I talk to friends and family, we discover it’s something a lot of us are sharing. Dry lips, long C symptoms like a runny nose or cough, and just an overall dryness. So my DIY hippie self got to making lip balm. I’ve nearly perfected a recipe for a lip balm that works well on my lips, the dried skin under my nose from all the nose-blowing, and my dried palms when I accidentally grab too much balm and have a little extra lying around. I even use it to help comb my eyebrows on my drives to outings.
I purchased packets of tin containers because this year I’ve decided to gift small containers of homemade lip balm. It’s not a big gift. It’s not an elaborate gift nor a costly one (this year is financially tough too), but a carefully curated thoughtful gift. I’d like to think so anyway. And best of all it’s another gift made with my little bitty hands. Aka made with love.
The recipe I adopted a few months ago from an online source is easy to make and is made with items you may have lying around at home. One batch fills about 5 small tin containers.
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp of jojoba oil (or other carrier oil like almond oil)
2 tbsp beeswax
½ tsp of honey (I use organic honey purchased from my uncle who harvests his own honey in Temecula, CA)
20 drops of essential oil (I used lavender and peppermint) or any other oil you may like.
In a double boiler pot, melt the coconut oil, jojoba oil, and beeswax together.
Once melted and removed from the fire, stir in the honey and essential oil into the melted oils until it’s mixed in well.
Pour into your containers and let cool.
And may your lips never be dry again. Merry Christmas.