Monthly Archives: December 2019

Switching Up the Family Tradition

Throughout my entire life, the winter holidays have been made extra special thanks to my mother’s fanaticism for decorating the house and setting traditions. I always felt like we had the best family traditions as we grew up, and I never knew if it was just stuff that my parents made up as they grew their family or if it was stuff they took from their own families. I’ve gathered since then, though, that they forged their own traditions. And I think that’s what made it even more authentic and magical.

Considering the house was always littered with shipping boxes by the time it was 8:00 a.m. on Christmas morning, it’s going to be quite a weird sight this year when we have far less cardboard strewn across the fireplace room. And that all stems from us growing older and knowing that sometimes it’s easier for everyone to gift money or just one or two gifts to each other.

We used to be a family of excess, always spending on whatever we wanted at the time. And I think it put a little bit of stress financially on my parents and then my brother and I after we left the house. But in the past year or two, we’ve all experienced financial revivals, thanks to being able to knock out large amounts of debt.


And so now we find ourselves much more focused on the family time, the memories we make playing cards or talking about our futures, than ever before. I think that’s truly invaluable, and it’s why spending less around the winter holidays is such an underrated thing in American culture.

So, despite the fact that we’ll see far fewer shipping boxes scattered around this year, I think we’re all looking forward to it more than any other year thanks to the stress we’ve eliminated around the holidays. If only other families could see these things and what the correlation is, I think so many people would be happier than they currently find themselves. The whole idea of giving and getting gifts is meant to create a sense of a “rush” when you open something, and it’s the peak of consumerism when you really sit down and consider why we do it in the first place.

So, I encourage you to think about spending your time or money elsewhere than material things around these holidays, as experiences are infinitely better than something that you won’t use in just a year.

Collecting Cardboard Year Round for Gifts

Every single year, I remind myself to hold onto some of my old cardboard boxes and shipping boxes. From one year to the next, I do a pretty good job about swapping out older boxes for those that are newish, especially if I happened to order something large online that comes in a big box I can use around the holidays.

What’s funny is that I never would’ve gotten into this habit if it weren’t for my mom stashing away hundreds (seriously, hundreds) of boxes from one year to the next, all for the sake of the holidays. Of course, it helped that she worked at the post office all her life, meaning there was no shortage of cardboard around our house growing up. Still, having so many boxes on hand meant she could sift through what she had available and find the perfect size and shape of box for whatever it was she was wrapping.

Thus, I got into the habit of collecting cardboard for the purpose of using around the winter holidays. But what started as a collection for gift giving soon turned out to be far more useful throughout the rest of the year for other various scenarios.

For example, having a handful of decent sized shipping boxes meant I could make a little storage area in my basement that helped clear up a LOT of clutter in our home. We’ve also been able to utilize our cardboard whenever we go camping, go to music festivals, and go to family functions that required us taking a lot of hot food that couldn’t be spilled in the vehicle en route to the function.

Whether you’re using your cardboard for gift wrapping or other things around your own home, holding onto cardboard and reusing it throughout the year is actually a super great thing for the sake of sustainability and being environmentally friendly. You don’t have to ascribe to that line of thinking year around, especially if you’ve never bothered to recycle or care about the environment that much. Nonetheless, reusing your older materials for future things is an amazing way to reduce your waste on a yearly basis, and it’s something you should feel proud about even if you weren’t intentionally doing it in the first place. Sometimes your actions do good without you realizing it, and that’s definitely something you can feel good about no matter what your intentions were.

The Top 3 Items on My Christmas List

I don’t usually have a specific thing in mind I want for Christmas from one year to the next, and it’s not often at all that I have multiple things within the same category. But for whatever reason, I’m gung ho on getting a lot of kitchen appliances and tools. I’ve asked my parents, my partner, her parents, and my grandmother for something that will end up in our kitchen. It’s almost to the point that I’m really starting to see my age show. I recall the days I’d ask for video games, new technology, and even clothes (I thought my age was showing then). But when you just want to cook with new and cool things, it’s pretty obvious that you’re settled into life as an adult.

So, I figured I’d share some of my list with you guys to get an idea on the cool new things I’m wanting for my kitchen next year. Maybe you’ll see a few of these as essentials you’re missing in your own kitchen. For me, it’s been eye opening how much random junk we have in our kitchen, from tools and old pictures to shipping supplies, like packing tape. I want my kitchen to be a sacred space for me and my food and nothing else. It’s time we make the kitchen less of a storage place and more of an art space. Less of the shipping supplies and random things as storage, more of the artist’s tools for creating beautiful, tasty, healthy dishes. That’s my dream for my kitchen, at least.

Lightweight wok.

I think the wok is an incredibly underrated kitchen cooking pan. I use it for all the east asian dishes I make, but I also use it for a quick saute of some veggies or even for just mixing large quantities of noodles or something else. It’s too useful and versatile to not have an amazing wok

Food processor.

With this, you can make your own salsa, you can make your own hummus, you can make pastes and sauces, and you finely chop anything you need. This is a vegan’s dream appliance, and you better believe it’s at the top of my list.

Air fryer.

This is an easier, healthier, cleaner way to fry your foods in quick order. Oil frying just takes so long to mess with the cleanup that it’s not even worth it. And if you do it inside? It stinks up your house. I can’t wait to have an air fryer.

An Exception to Subscription Based Companies: Your Health

Since the last few years, I’ve become extremely interested in subscription based companies that send products straight to your doorstep for a recurring monthly fee. In practice, it’s one of the most genius ideas ever. As for “convenience”, that’s something too subjective for me to comment on. It’s up to you as a consumer to decide what is convenient for you and what isn’t worth it. For me, going to the store to get something is always cheaper, even if a little inconvenient.

Nonetheless, I’ve become a big fan of streaming services for media, since those actually do save you tons of money while also being readily accessible on demand, whenever you need it. Since it’s not a physical product, it’s something that makes more sense for me to be subscription based.

But one thing has gotten me quite interested in physical products, and it’s my overall health. I’d rather not contribute my money to big name grocery stores for my health products, especially since they don’t seem to sell a lot of the vegan items I look for whenever I’m out shopping to renew my conditioner, body soap, and even toothpaste.

That’s why I’m also interested in going to a subscription based toothbrush company. It seems to be far more sustainable and less plastic is used, all for roughly the same price (or just a little more). I don’t normally buy into these companies when sending shipping boxes to my home, but for my health I think I can make an exception.

And what makes these so successful is the perceived value involved. When you get a new electric toothbrush with refillable heads every three months, it seems incredible that you paid the price you did for such a thing when quality electric toothbrushes can cost upwards of $50 to $100.

Just as well, the convenience of not having to remind yourself to buy new toothbrushes every three months is pretty huge. I’ve always been bad about changing out toothbrushes whether I’m sick or the bristles have become bad.

So, just like any subscription-based product, toothbrushes are taking off and doing extremely well in American culture. People love to have money withdrawn from their account for them so that they don’t have to actively make a purchase or go out to get something if the shipping boxes can be delivered to their door. And to be honest, you can’t blame consumers who do this, since the vast majority have subscribed to something similar in this age.