My approach to the holiday shopping cannot be described as a solid green effort…more of a veeeeeeery unattractive quilt…with a few green squares, but mostly what ever fits the space without me losing my fa la la la mind and kicking any man with a red suit and beard in the nards. Overall…I want to enjoy my holidays and the people I share them with. If in the process I can streamline things, produce a little less waste, perhaps stuff people with an organic pie or two that’s just peachy.(Not local peachy of course because we are a wee past season for that.)
Let’s start with the gifts. I try to do homemade, the most local workmanship known, whenever it will please the receiver. For some branches of the family this has always been my practice…not so much a s a green thing…but as a way of showing people I care and think about them. My father’s side of the family are all artistic, crafty, and very into the do-it-yourself type of mentality. (One year my uncle even crotched everyone their own blanket!) Each year I have fun picking a new creation…usually sweet. One year it was Norwegian hazel nut cake with chocolate ganash, another it was homemade chocolate covered pretzels, truffels, assorted cookies, you get the picture. The planning and cooking/baking is what I enjoy most about the season. Now that I have assistants it is even more meaningful and festive. We get a chance to talk about everyone’s favorite foods…favorite colors…and actually spend some time thinking about what will make people smile…and gain 10 lbs. To make this practice even more local this year I am going to try to incorporate my CSA pumpkin puree, stashed in the freezer with love. I’m thinking pumpkin ginger truffles dipped in dark chocolate. Everyone grab your fat pants…you’re going to need them if you’re on the list.
But I would be a big fat liar if I claimed all my squares were green….read on.
As for the kids…not our own…and the adults not so into the homemade thing…if I know specifically what they want I simply get that item. I consider it waste prevention. Otherwise…I go services, more on that later in the week, or books & book gift cards. My one sister-in-law started the book practice a few years ago with my older son. He loved having his own book “credit card.” I in turn started doing this with my other nieces and nephews…and so forth and so forth. Now some people may not consider books a green gift but I do. One…I never consider encouraging reading a waste…ever. Mind expansion and spirit enrichment trump all else. Two…books are one of those things most people pass along when they are done with them. Here, we have a local church that collects unwanted books, has an annual book sale, and donates the profits to Habitat for Humanity. Three…when a book really hits the wall…most are completely recyclable. Now I could go local with purchasing, but I’m afraid my cheapness takes over here. Most local book stores can not even come close to Amazon’s or Barnes & Nobles’ prices. (And yes…both will ship books without plastic if you request it.) Plus, by using the bigger book stores you know people can easily return something if they already have a copy…preventing waste. Let’s call these squares plaid, shall we, with green highlights.
With my own children I try to be “green” by limiting the amount we get & by being sure to get long term toys only. The boys get 1 gift from us, 1 from Santa, and 1 from each other. Stockings are filled with yummies, books, matching PJs and required art supplies. We try to avoid the toy frenzy as much as possible. With tons of aunts, uncles, great aunts & uncles…even a great great aunt & grandmother…they get a sleighful. I also try to head off some of the crap tide by having a few gift ideas for askers well in advance. I have found over the years saying…oh they don’t need anything…results in singing dancing x-mas trees headed for the trash. Again, as far as local…not so much. Now if only someone would start a homemade Lego shop….. Greenish-brown squares? …Like pondmud.
As for food. We don’t host most of the big days…so a take-along organic pie is no big whoop. As far as meals at home, we stick to our usual rules…just with added fat and gin. New Year’s is our one big hosting event. This is my first year of really focusing on the local thing…whole new perspective. For the party we’ve always done the bulk of the shopping from local specialty shops…but the ingredients themselves are far from local. I will certainly be adding some newly discovered local delicacies, and serving a CSA turkey, but I will also NOT be turning down my Norwegian smoked fishies, or super rich French, Spanish, and Italian cheeses. But this year I may try offering organic wines…depending on what my “research” unveils. Local with wines isn’t easy. We don’t have quite the variety that a CA or Europe dweller would have…but maybe a Finger Lake wine or two will find themselves nestled between the Frenchies…if they don’t make me gag. Again…I’ll go plaid with these squares.
**We also participate in the NYC Operation Letters to Santa program where the NYC P.O. collects letters to Santa from underprivileged kids and has volunteers make the kids x-mas wishes come true. They could ask for imported plutonium dipped clubbed baby seal rugs…are you gonna say no? You heartless bastard.** Black as coal…no way around it.
Well…I may have the world’s ugliest holiday quilt…with some green squares, some black ones, some from origins near, and some from tiny ice villages, but it’s mine…and it includes everyone I love…green or not. I sew them all in…nice and close.