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Wholly Canadian Blog

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Past

 Christmas is so filled with consumerism. . .

I keep thinking of ways to keep a simple, yet community-oriented, joy-filled ways of celebrating!

Many parents feel overwhelmed with trying to make thought-full & care-full decisions regarding Christmas gifts.  My encouragement to Canadians is to get curious about the stories behind their purchases with three questions:

  1. Who made it and were they paid a fair-wage?
  2. Where was it made?  (Go beyond the country. . .begin to question the standard of working conditions of where it was made)
  3. Are we consuming or gift-giving from the heart? (i.e. is this just another thing in our already full house?)

In 2013 was my first year with a baby, and like many parents, I can testify to the pleasure of shopping for babies! But I wanted baby's first Christmas not only be a blessing to him, but to the community around him. At that time, he had no toy box and only a few crib toys.  I knew that in the coming months he would be ready for play.

I'm a vintage-loving mama, and early fall last year I purchased the Golden Book's "Baby Christmas." Spending many hours in the rocker with my baby gave me a great deal of time to think. . .and I began to think about the lovely toys that the baby in this book got for Christmas. My initial thought was to see if I could mimic the gifts in this book. As I let this thought ruminate within me, I had another idea stir inside me. . .Why not re-make this book with my baby? But not just re-make it--but doing so in a paradigm of goodwill. I remember being so excited about it that night, I could hardly sleep.

I had no idea at the time how much effort and time it would require. . .but I sure had a joyous time doing it. The joy was fitting his gifts in the a paradigm of goodwill.

All the gifts he received for the "Baby's Christmas" book project,  fit into three categories:

  1. Locally-made/ North American-made gifts
  2. Second-hand/used gifts
  3. Gifts he already owned (Yup, I re-gave him gifts that already sat in his nursery. . .) {grin}

Let me take you on a visual-read of some of the pages of this book. . .hopefully encouraging you to think about upcoming purchases in a paradigm of goodwill.




The Christmas-tree page was the most fun to replicate. . .the tree is so full of such amazing details!

. . .vintage lights, glass candy canes, my sister's home-made baked gingerbread cookies, I located vintage glass German glass churches, my sister and I strung the popcorn {and lost a needle--ouch!}, vintage nativity set from my mother-in-law, second-hand star that I painted gold, wool felted snowmen from babazoobee in Ontario, and tree from our local Ron Paul Garden Centre.





I purchased a used, vintage music-box from Switzerland. . one that plays the same lullabye as in the book. This is one of the most treasured gifts. . .so simple and so sweet.

We crank out the tune every night for baby. It's his cue that's it's bedtime. As soon as he hears the music, he turns on his side and sucks his fingers. It melts my heart every night.  Many times I tear up soaking in the sacredness of the moment. As I watch him, all tucked in, my mama's-heart wrenches a bit because this day in baby's life is over. . . for as the familiar poem says, "babies don't keep."

This is the one gift that mama will keep for herself. . .I imagine myself one day as an old granny still cranking out the lullabye on the music box, wistfully wishing these memories back. Mary, the mother of the Christ-child, was said to "ponder these things in her heart." Maybe she had a tune in her heart as well. . .




"A little drum to beat upon. . ." 

Found this second-hand as well.




"A kiddie car that steers. . ."

Made in Ontario, Canada by Thorpe Toys




A ball to roll along the floor. . .

I wanted an identical ball, so I chose British Columbia Splat and Co to make an identical ball for baby with a jingle bell in the centre!




"A picture book. . . "

With some extensive searching I found the identical "Baby's Mother's Goose" Golden Book. . .it turns out that it is one of my baby's favourite books now. He loves the nursery rhymes. As it is a 1968 used edition, I have to keep the book out of his reach, as he really wants to love on the book! The illustrated pictures of the children in the book are so precious!

"A rocking horse. . ."

Granny had previously purchased him a used rocking-horse. . .so we gave it to him again!

I found a used vintage bouncy seat we used as a prop for the picture. . .it was a great deal of fun re-creating this picture at Granny's house with the garland, nativity set, and stocking.

"A shovel and a pail. . ."

A used vintage shovel & pail that was made in the USA.




"A little boat for baby dear to sail. . ." 

Hailing from Alberta, I purchased this boat from Jacob's Wooden Toys. We had to do many baths to take this pic, as we were on a real beet-eating streak, and the water was always pink. Finally, I cut out the beets!




"A milk truck. . ."

Undoubtedly one of his favourite toys! I found a used milk truck, and oh, what fun! We just have to make sure he does not chew on the milk bottles (they were already pre-chewed by a previous baby!) because vintage paint is generally not safe for babies.


Now's a good time to talk about his outfit. Traditionally baby wore diaper shirts and diaper pants. I had one made by one of my favourite baby clothing shops: Mabel Retro from British Columbia. I'm thinking about getting some red Christmas pajamas from there for this Christmas. So cute!


"And a train. . ." 

He already had this train sitting in his nursery. Prior to his birth, I found this used vintage train stamped as "H L Wooden Toy Company." Wonder if they are still around?    I think "Lil' Engine" was the second word he understood, as when he was just a wee baby, everytime we would enter his nursery, I would always roll it back and forth on his shelf and say "Lil' Engine." This, too, is one of his favourite toys. We are currently reading about "The Little Engine that could" and just took a ride on a steam engine in Assiniboine Park!




"Where will baby keep the toys. . .?"




"And that's where Baby puts the toys at the end of every day. . ." 

I didn't have a budget for a toybox. So we re-created one with one of our already-owned vintage wooden creates, painted it red, and put some castor wheels on it. I figued it would be easier to clean if it wheeled around. And true encough, now at 18 months, he's starting to clean up his toys when we make a game of it {I'm trying to make this his job!} 

The little red toy box was Papa's project, and he did a fantastic job. . .albeit we had to borrow our neighbour's drill when we couldn't find ours on Christmas Eve. . .oh, the pressure on Christmas Eve!

This is how he learned to walk. . .by pushing his toy cart around the house. It's proved to be a multi-functional toy. When we arrive home, the first thing he does is look for for his toy cart, and takes it for a spin!




We even re-created this picture at Granny's house. . .I had a wool red duster coaster made for me by a local seamstress with a vintage pattern.



Christmas 2013. Oh, what fun, we had. . .Again, just a sample of some of the pages from The Golden Book: "Baby's Christmas."

What amazes me is how much joy local & re-used gifts can offer.  While many people are not in the same baby-stage, I provide these examples to serve as a catalyst to get your creative juices going. . .How can a spirit of goodwill inform your purchases this year?

You see this paradigm isn't just for babies.  When you think about the conventional gifts that most babies receive, they're "cheap" imports that still cost a pretty penny. To purchase gifts in a paradigm of goodwill requires curiousity--no matter what stage of you life you are in!

Start thinking about local, fair-trade, used, etc. . . (Click here for a post on Why.)


Again, my challenge to Canadians is to get curious about the stories behind their purchases with three questions:

  1. Who made it and were they paid a fair-wage?
  2. Where was it made?  (Go beyond the country. . .begin to question the standard of working conditions of where it was made)
  3. Are we consuming or gift-giving from the heart? (i.e. is this just another thing in our already full house?)

It always breaks my heart thinking about the countless children involved in child-labour to produce toys, candy, and food for North American children (and adults). . .

This post is itended to be an encouragment for artisans, parents, and the average Canadian . . .We hope you are inspired to give Christmas gifts in a true spirit of "peace and goodwill to all." Gifts are meant to bless more than just than the receiver. . .how will you make your gifts a blessing to community?

Wholly Canadian wants to challenge all Canadians this coming Christmas in their shopping!

What are ways that you celebrate Christmas?


Posted by Wholly Canadian at 7:00 AM


What a beautiful article, thank you for including us in your journey. We enjoyed making your ball and are delighted to see it in action.
September 12, 2014 10:19 AM By Jamie
I really enjoy this idea , why spend a fortune of toys when you can DIY or bring back the past.
September 14, 2014 1:03 PM By Kristie-Dawn Jewell Perrier
What a beautiful baby! Looking forward to hearing how you will celebrate this Christmas.
September 14, 2014 3:55 PM By Linda

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