030 Christmas Eve Podcast


With Kelly off visiting family, I’ve put together a short and simple podcast this week. I read my blog post, Let’s Talk About the Holidays and the reader comments. I conclude with, of course, some Bulgarian Christmas bagpipe music.


A reader mentions two blog posts about parenting during the holidays:
When Mommy and Daddy Took the Toys Away
Five Ways Frugal Living Benefits Kids

I mention Shannon Hayes’ post:
Murdering Santa and Other Tips for Enjoying the Holidays

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Let’s Talk About the Holidays

Christmas in Bulgaria by Miroslav Trendafilov.

There’s no doubt that the materialism of the Christmas season in the US presents challenges to folks who are on the radical homemaking path. One action that’s helped around our household was to cut off commercial television, something we did many years ago.

A number of people mentioned that they really enjoyed hearing Shannon Hayes on our podcast talking about how her family celebrates the holidays. She has also written a blog post on the subject, “Murdering Santa and Other Tips for Enjoying the Holidays.” Like Shannon, we also don’t want to come off as a self-righteous Scrooge or further our lifestyle as fodder for future Portlandia scripts. At the same time I’m also haunted by the tension between tradition and its conflict with modern life (note Habermas’ 2010 dialog with Jesuit scholars if you want to fall down a ponderous and inconclusive philosophical rabbit hole).

Then there’s what I call the fake snow on Hollywood Boulevard problem. Living in a Mediterranean climate, as we do, is confusing. The days are short, but the hills are green. The fake snow gets coated in smog. Here’s the problem. The Christmas story is overlaid on Northern European winter traditions, yet the original version takes place in a climate similar to ours in California. The snowman/Jack Frost/North Pole/Santa thing seems forced and artificial here.

This a long winded way of simply asking you, our readers, to talk about how you celebrate this time of year. How you counteract its hijacking by commercial interests? What does Christmas in the southern hemisphere feel like, coming as it does in the middle of summer? What does it feel like to be Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or none of the above and be surrounded by inflatable snowmen?

And can someone please explain the Bulgarian Christmas procession in the AMAZING video above? What’s with the bread? Who is the black hooded figure? I have to interject here that I’d love to permanently retire the “Rock Around the Christmas Tree” genre of music hell. More bagpipes, please.

Seeds the Game


Nick Heyming, who I met through his work at Growcology, is working on a kind of alternative to games like Farmville. Instead of pointless hours staring at a screen, SEEDS the Game’s goal is to get you out into your garden. It’s a mobile app that will encourage you to, according to the description on their website:

Take photos of your plants at home, filter and share your attention to your real garden.

Find neighbors to trade seeds with and share activities related to gardening and local food systems.

Get climate and map updates for weather patterns relevant to your area and garden needs.

Seed points redeem for real prizes like seeds and coupons for garden equipment.

Grow your own food and learn practices for permaculture and self-sustaining food systems at home!

If you want to support the project they’ve got an Indiegogo campaign.

Saturday Tweets: Holiday Edition