Holiday Survival

This post is from Kerry of The Simple Year 1 who doesn’t follow strictly buy nothing new rule these days, but still tries to keep it simple. 


Am I the only one whose simple holiday traditions tend to take on a life of their own?  One year when my kids were very little, I had them set a leprechaun trap on St. Patrick’s Day which was really just a box on a stick, very Wile E. Coyote.  They didn’t get a leprechaun, but he left them some chocolate coins.

They were hooked.

I was locked into that tradition for the NEXT EIGHT YEARS, which would have been fine had they been satisfied with the box on a stick.  But, my future NASA engineers grew more sophisticated each year and  so did their leprechaun trap schematics.  This would have also been fine if we started early, but generally they would remember at about 10 minutes to bedtime the night before.   This would always begin with a negotiation of how late they could stay up past their bed time constructing and end with my husband or I making a late night trip to Walgreens trying to find chocolate coins.  One year they got candy cigarettes.  That was the last year my husband was allowed to go.

So what was I talking about?  Oh, holiday traditions getting out of control.

I will be the first to admit, that I don’t keep it strictly simple at the holidays.  We do a fair amount of decorating. I host a holiday party and I try to contribute to all of my kids holiday activities, pot lucks and fund raisers.  In my defense, I like to do these things and love to spend the time with family and friends.  So it doesn’t seem overwhelming to me, usually.

As far as gift giving, I usually send consumables or “experiences” to most people on my list.  But, I think most people that give gifts have one or two people that are hard to buy for.  For me, that person is my sister-in-law (and her partner).   They are really lovely people-and childless- and affluent and each year they send my kids a mountain of presents. I have long given up trying to reason with her.  My husband says she enjoys it and to leave her alone about it.  And the truth is, they don’t expect us to reciprocate or expect us to spend a great deal of money.  But still, each year I wrack my brain to find something meaningful, something they will love, something they can use.

But, this year for the first time ever, I am sending them a gift I hope they don’t use.

I should back up.  A little over a week ago here in Alaska, we had an 7.0 earthquake.  If you haven’t been in an earthquake that size, it’s as if you unwittingly got on one of those dropping rides at a theme park stuck in repeat mode, and they forget to strap you in.  Plus it starts to rain…glassware, while people scream.

Fortunately, we are all fine.  Our damage here was limited to infrastructure, buildings and their contents.  I honestly am surprised no one was seriously hurt or killed as it truly was as if God herself was trying to shake an Etch-A-Sketch clean.

In any case, I have been giving serious consideration to emergency preparedness lately. We are living with these daily aftershocks, so I remain vigilant.    On the bright side because of this experience, I finally thought of a gift for my sister-in-law that they may not love, but demonstrates our love for them.  I have put together survival “go bags” for them to carry in their cars on their long daily commutes in Washington DC traffic.  I used my own experience, plus did a little research to determine what I was going to include.  List is below.


Survival Car Kits

  • Small backpack so you can grab the whole thing and go (I used the freebie ones with strings they give out during running races)
  • Headlamp with batteries (hint: don’t store batteries in the headlamp)
  • Candles
  • Matches or lighter (You can buy waterproof and windproof type at outdoor retailers)
  • Water Container (full)
  • Water filter or purification tablets (We bought a Lifestraw that gets great reviews and is inexpensive)
  • Meal replacement bars
  • Silver “Space” emergency blanket
  • Respirator Mask
  • Hand Warmers
  • First Aid supplies
  • Extra Socks
  • Card with all your important contact numbers written down in case you are separated from your phone (I actually realized I did not have my kids phone numbers memorized and if my phone ran out of battery life, I couldn’t call them on a land line or from someone else’s phone)

Alaskan Sunset, happy holidays from the last frontier, a little shaken, but not broken