I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

Turns out our grandparents had it right all along. I look forward each year to opening handcrafted cards from my husband’s Oma. Using all second-hand materials, including the fronts and backs of old cards themselves, Oma forms a gorgeous new creation out of seeming dross. Holding her work in my hands, I know that there is none other in this universe like it, and the beauty, effort and thoughtfulness touch me in a way that no Hallmark confection could. Frugality and a resourcefulness borne of necessity for so many who came of age in times of war are traits we, in the era of Dollarama, should be so fortunate to possess. Many “old-timey” skills – embroidery, knitting, preserving and sewing, to name a few – are experiencing a revival for the hipster and hipster-at-heart. What’s important here, however, as we approach Christmas 2017, is the idea at the root of this sensibility: care.

Why knit a pair of socks for your sister when you could simply pop out to the mall and be back in time to binge on Netflix? Because you care – about your sister, about the materials used to make the socks, about what it means to foster time well spent. Most folks, by this point in time, know that the price of fast fashion is poor working conditions, abhorrent environmental practices and an overall dearth of respect for human dignity and creation. Take this knowledge and apply it to our holiday spending – every ornament, roll of wrapping paper, plastic toy (and its attendant packaging), jaunty reindeer nose for the minivan, all of it – marks a moment in which the giver chose convenience over care and when one’s theology may very well have taken a back seat to one’s time and money.  

So this Christmas season, along with remembering the true purpose of the holiday, give yourself a little breathing space, some time to examine the feelings that surface when faced with the task of present buying, tree picking, star-topping and ham roasting. Amidst the rush, are you able to make choices that reflect your beliefs? Can you help yourself to, even in small ways, make choices guided by care rather than convenience? If that seems daunting, you are not alone. Fortunately, millions of wise elders and thousands of hipsters have paved the way for us.

Christmas with care
Here are a few simple things you can do to fill your holiday season with care.

If you haven’t purchased a tree yet, consider buying a second-hand “fake” tree. By purchasing this (or any) item used, you are helping to offload some of the embodied energy (all of the energy, from material sourcing to product manufacturing to transporting the item to the store) of the tree, which is, by all accounts, pretty horrendous when one considers all of those fake needles! You are also keeping it out of the landfill and preserving a “real” tree for every year you continue to use it.

Use re-usable cloth bags for presents. Re-use old wrapping paper. Make “new” wrapping paper out of newspaper, brown bags or beautiful bits of old cloth. Re-purpose your favourite CC articles, selected purposely for each recipient, for later reading!

Mine thrift stores for decorations. Make ornaments from scratch. Take a walk and collect pinecones, beach glass and other overlooked items of natural splendor, fit to adorn any holiday home!

As far as gifts, the obvious remains true: Organizations like Ten Thousand Villages and World Vision have many options for ethical gift giving. Start there. Buy secondhand. Further, you can choose to buy nothing – really, nothing! Buying nothing doesn’t mean giving nothing, and this is when you can pull out those knitting needles, needle nosed pliers or needle and thread and create something from the heart.

Give “experiences” rather than gifts – this is the trend du jour, and it can be a lot of fun! Experiences can be grand gestures, like taking the entire family on a trip, or small, like a coffee date or movie night.

Have an idea for celebrating Christmas with care? Share it with us at ac.reiruocnaitsirhc@rotide.   

  • Katie is a writer, educator and mom and works in communications and sustainability. She attended nine different public schools K-12 and both private Christian and public universities. Favourite school: forest floor; favourite teachers: her parents.

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