Being in the holiday spirit reminds me how important celebrations and traditions can be. Even those who adamantly declare that they avoid traditions are, in effect, implementing them – that is, their avoidance of tradition is, in fact, their tradition. I know, it sounds strange, but it’s true.
Traditions ground us – they define who we are and connect us to community. The community may be present or may be miles away, and it may be large or small. Growing up, we always baked Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving. Now as an adult, when I bake cookies on that day – even if I am baking alone – I feel connected to those I baked with, and even the people they baked with before I was born.
Traditions can be reassuring and calming. When the world changes dramatically, I can’t think of anything we’ll need more! What a better way to prepare for such a time, than to create “Holidays in a Can.” Or a six-gallon pail. Phil describes the contents of holiday cans as “the saved of the saved.” In other words, we’re prepping for the holidays, not just for survival. We’re purposefully storing special food and other items with our preps that we won’t touch until the holiday comes around so that our holiday will be special even when times are tough.
What holidays should you plan for? Any days that are special to you – birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve or Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Independence Day come to mind. In our house, only a few of those are important days – you identify the ones that are important to you. (Phil is a peculiar fan of Groundhog Day. Go figure.)
What should be in the holiday cans? Now there’s a question that will have a unique answer for each of us. Ask yourself this:
What makes the holiday special to me and my family? Is it smells or activities or sights or sounds?
Your answer to that question will help you identify what should go into your can. Here are some ideas.
- A card (birthday, anniversary, etc.)
- A decoration or two
- Ingredients for a prepper version of a favorite or special food (or just include a fruitcake!)
- A gift – something special to share with others
- Something frivolous or fancy
- Something that evokes memories of the holiday – perhaps a picture or ornament or piece of clothing (an ugly Christmas sweater comes to mind)
- Candles. Fancy ones since you might be using candles more in TEOTWAWKI and we want the can to hold special things. Don’t forget birthday candles if it’s a birthday can – and if you’re one of those people who always puts trick candles on the cake, be sure to include them.)
- Spray scent (I hate it, but if I was desperate, I might really enjoy the Christmas feel of it – or it might just remind me of why I always hated it – which is a part of Christmas, too!)
- A game
- A special drink (every year at Christmas I have a glass of Crown Royale because it’s what my dad gave me for Christmas every year)
The key is to pare the items down to just a few that will bring the essence of your holiday into a time of crisis.
The Alternative Holiday Can
Having written all that I just did about the importance of traditions – and believing every word of it – I’ve also experienced times when it was important to break with tradition to make the holiday livable. For example, the year Phil’s mom died I specifically planned a non-traditional Christmas for us. I knew that the holiday memories would be too difficult the first year, so instead of focusing on the holiday, we remodeled our living room and dining room over Christmas week. Yes, we took a short break to join family for dinner, but then we returned home to finish painting.
So another approach to your holiday cans (or perhaps just some of them) is an alternative holiday can. Instead of filling it with things that remind you of former holidays, use it as a starting place for igniting new traditions or simply having a fun day. Here are some ideas:
- A new game
- Supplies to make a new scrapbook or cards
- Treat food that isn’t reminiscent of your holidays. I’m loving Auguson Farms Blueberry Muffins these days. A couple batches of that in my birthday can would be a new tradition I’d enjoy!
- An IOU for a day of rest and pampering – in whatever form that would take in TEOTWAWKI. Massage oils would probably have a very long shelf life.
- A letter that you write now that would still be applicable then
- One thing that reminds you of and connects you with the traditional holiday. Just a small thing. Don’t make it the centerpiece of the can.
Remember, your holidays in cans are the “saved of the saved.” They’re in the secret vault not to be opened until the holiday arrives. That’s what holiday prepping is all about.
What are your ideas? How are you including the holidays in your prepping? Comment below or add your comments on Facebook.
And again, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.