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  • Writer's pictureArjanna van der Plas


I made my first appearance in a Dutch newspaper at the tender age of 10.

To be fair, I was mainly a supporting character in a story about my mom, who had just published a book about raising kids through humanist principles. The interview contained many practical insights on how to empower children to navigate the complexities of life, and make informed decisions by themselves.

“Mama, are we famous now?”, I asked with sparkling eyes.

“Well wijfie, a little, but not for the things I had hoped.”

Here’s what happened.

Somewhere in the article, my mom had mentioned that she didn’t find it necessary to get a christmas tree every year. This triggered quite a few people to grab their fancy fountain pen and share their outrage in hefty letters to the editors.

How could a parenting expert deprive her kids of this joy?!

The answer to that was a very humanist one. Rather than mindlessly doing what you are supposed to do for Christmas, my mom wanted to rethink what this holiday meant to us as a family. And putting a dying tree in the middle of the living room simply wasn’t her idea of festive

My upbringing showed me that even though traditions can be beautiful, there is always space to make them work for you. So while I see many folks run around like headless chickens to live up to everyone’s expectations around Christmas, I am feeling pretty relaxed.

I am currently researching other ways to bring more meaningful rituals to our home, to counterbalance the presents+sugar dominated approach to Christmas, and pretty much any holiday. If you have any inspiring rituals that I can borrow from you, I’d love to hear them!

And if you are stressing out about the upcoming Christmas holidays, I ask you: what is one thing that you could do to make the holidays more enjoyable for you and your loved ones?

Wishing you a calm end of the year, and a wonderful start to 2024!

Sign up for my semi biweekly two-minute treat emails here to receive my next story in your inbox!

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