Well, my friends. It's that time of year again. Time to snap those wallets shut and think about the true meaning of the holidays (even if you are not religious). I really love tradition, and celebrating with my family and friends. And usually, making the green choice involves having forethought and carefully planning how to tackle an event. So here are a few successful strategies I've found for limiting the giving-and-getting beast over the upcoming holiday season. Consider this a to-do-list for myself for the fall.
- Make our costumes; the more I can upcycle the better (signed up for a basic sewing class!)
- Buy pre-packaged treats to offer kids at the door (I just ordered fair trade chocolates from Global Exchange) including non-food options like stickers and pencils, but make (more alluring) homemade stuff for the kids we know -- like caramel apples or silly looking cookies
- Get my kids to collect for Unicef
- Order kit to educate adults about fair-trade chocolate issues (from Global Exchange - deadline is Oct. 1 for groups and Oct. 13 for individuals)
- Make our decorations (ghosts out of tissues or handkerchiefs, paper-and-paint old-school decor)
- Head out to the country for apple picking, hay rides, and selecting the perfect jack o'lantern from the pumpkin patch
- Have a blast carving pumpkins and eating roasted pumpkin seeds
- Bask in the brief, merciful respite from sugar-laden and gift-glorching holidays
- Eat favorite family goodies like oyster stuffing, stuffed peppers, and make-ahead potatoes; take walk through woods if weather allows
- Cook and then wolf down some of these pumpkin goodies (note to self: cook actual pumpkins to make puree rather than using BPA-lined cans)
- Read books on giving thanks and make a Tree of Thanks like my sister-in-law did last Thanksgiving (cut out kid-sized hands out of construction paper; everyone take a moment to write notes before dinner; have everyone read aloud, then attach to branch centerpiece)
- Try to get family members to get sustainable/used goods that we really want/need
- If we can stop ourselves and others from celebrating with things (depends on the relationship), ask for donations to charities we love
- Give others homemade items (shop Crafty Bastards today! shop Etsy online)
- Give the gift of time (babysit, shovel snow, rake leaves, make dinner, walk dogs, corral kids into playdates, generally allow people you love to breathe)
- Make sure that the holidays are about special traditions (like seeing lights/holiday displays, making gingerbread houses, singing carols, reading special stories, seeing loved ones)
- When wrapping gifts, use reusable cloth bags instead of wrapping paper; if using giftwrap, buy recycled and reuse both it and the ribbons
Don't Forget the Solstice!
One of the most wonderful things about this time of year is the ancient tradition of honoring the seasonal changes as the light dwindles and the evergreens promise ongoing life. Honoring nature adds to the wonder of the winter holidays.
Take A Breath
And a final note to self? Relax! Remember that even if your darling children have never eaten anything but hemp granola for breakfast, they won't grow a third arm if Lucky Charms come in that Christmas stocking (hey, my children's Easter Bunny brings fresh spring vegetables... couldn't Santa just bring pickled carrots? I'm just sayin!) 'Cause although I wrestle every year with the emotional connections we sometimes build through giving vs. the materialism that undermines the genuine sharing and love of the holidays, I do think that we all need ways to kindle warmth with each other. Hope you have a great fall building traditions with your families and strengthening your ties to your community.
This is my contribution to this month's Green Moms Carnival, hosted on Monday, Sept. 29 by GreenBeanDreams. Go check out the other entries on the commercialization of the holidays!