“Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism.”
~ Caroline Kennedy
The irony of the season is not lost on me. How did we get from a symbolic meal of abundance, sharing, community, gratitude and family to people literally shoving anyone in their path to get in the doors of a store on Thanksgiving Day?
It’s not the magic of the season I recall. We were definitely spoiled with a lot of gifts at Christmas, when I was a kid, but being together with family remained the central theme. Little rituals like football with dad, or trying to help my frantic mother with the Thanksgiving dinner, or wrapping gifts with big bro at midnight on Christmas eve, while listening to cool tunes and getting educated on various nuances of rock history (listen to my brother’s excellent, entertaining AND educational radio show, Uncle Buggy Radio Show). These are the things I look back on with that gooey, tingly, warm and fuzzy glow. Do I remember the gifts? No, not so much.
I knew the gift was being with my family, even if we were at odds or snarking at each other or someone was too drunk. I knew this for sure after my father died and the magic went kind of dark, then many family members evacuated the planet in rapid succession, which demolished the holidays for me — for a time.
My well-meaning older sister fought hard to keep us all together and recreate the scenes of our youth, but it never really worked. As my children appeared (as if by magic in this story), I knew it was up to me to create meaningful holidays for them (and for the purpose of this post, “holidays” = Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years).
Maybe try some yummy vegan eggnog? spiked or not, it’s easy, healthy & delicious!
It was my turn to become the standard bearer of this season and set the backdrop of great memories for my offspring. Daunting task. It has evolved over the 30 years since my first was born (wow, can you imagine what I was like as a teen mom? just kidding . . . but I don’t feel as old as all this makes me sound!). Now I have a new role as a Ya Ya (grandmother), and as a green diva, it’s also about making the most eco-friendly holiday possible.
My motto now is buy less, make more, and when I have to buy, I buy local and if I can’t buy local I make for damned sure it is sustainably made, recyclable, and as eco-friendly as possible!
Here are a few ways to create magic and meaning in the season while
reducing the impact on momma earth
- Peace starts within ~ if I want to have a more peaceful and fun holiday season, I have to take darn good care of myself from the inside out. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so take good care and it will be a lot easier for you and those around you! Read my post about personal energy conservation for the holidays.
- Remembering the Reason for the Season ~ whatever holiday you celebrate, try not to be sucked into the commercial marketing aspect of it or the expectations of those that ARE sucked in. Be who you are and shine your love on those around you. No really. I’m not going to get too philosophical, but I’m not sure if there is any religion or belief system (that is a positive one) that being kind and loving and generous isn’t a theme.
- Make stuff ~ I do a lot of holiday preparation with my kids now. From Thanksgiving dishes to holiday crafts, and at least one of my daughters has begun her own creative traditions. Spending time with them coming up with crafty and creative ideas and then sitting around making stuff is probably my very favorite thing to do over the holiday season. Make this amazing vegan hot cocoa gift for friends and family (and yourself). It’s always a huge hit!
- Buy less ~ I stopped buying crappy plastic stocking stuffers and filler years ago, and I spend a lot of time coming up with USEFUL and cool items, many of which are locally crafted (by real artisans as opposed to my goofy attempts). As a family, we decided years ago to give up the multi-gift crazed thing for Christmas and just focus on handmade items and stockings. We spend less money, consume less packaging in store-bought items, and use much less wrapping paper, but we all have a great time getting creative. I prefer getting a few meaningful gifts than a mess of haphazard (even expensive) gifts.
- Regift ~ seems like a cardinal sin or something, but honestly, we just have way too much stuff and there’s no reason to generate more stuff! I have jewelry to pass down to my girls, or books or special things from my mother and grandmother that have infinitely more meaning to them than anything I could buy at the store (well almost anything).
- Buy local ~ I rarely go into a shopping mall EVER, but I have not stepped foot in a mall between Thanksgiving and New Years in many years now. I have my favorite local shops I go to for the few gifts I don’t make or regift. I am fortunate that I live an an extremely cool little town and I enjoy visiting the store owners and sharing my dollars with them, especially during the holiday season.
- Stick to healthy routines ~ it’s a wonderful season to visit with friends and family and attend all those fun parties, but it’s not necessary to toss out all your healthy ways (or become the super annoying vegan drag at the party). There are a lot of ways to maintain balance even if your friends and family are not. Here’s a fun Green Divas Foodie-Philes featuring Jerry James Stone about how he has a healthy vegan/vegetarian holiday season:
- Ease up on the decorations ~ for the love of whatever god you believe in (0r none at all), PLEASE don’t create a blow-up doll village on your lawn! I’m sure I’ve offended someone (sorry), but they are probably manufactured in China of questionable plastic fabric, and they use up more energy than we should be wasting on this stuff. Minimize the blazing lights not only for the energy savings, but there is a thing called light pollution, which is serious and we could light up the sky with some neighborhoods that compete for who can be most creative with their holiday light extravaganzas. Listen to this Green Divas Radio Show from the archives for a great feature with the Dark Ranger, Kevin Poe who talks about light pollution.
- Gratitude & giving always works ~ even if your family sucks and the world seems bleak for you this season, I bet there is someone who has it worse off than you. Get your gratitude on and go out there and be generous with your time, love, kindness, energy, whatever you have to give. You don’t have to spend money to give amazing gifts, and nothing gets me out of a funk like helping someone who has less. Read my post from last year on how to Be the Light during the holidays.
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