Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ho ho ho, recycled Christmas

O.K. up front I want to say I am not a scrooge. I love Christmas and pretty much always have. There was that one pre-teen year when I breathlessly and expectantly opened my much-desired Michael Jackson cassette tape (yes I said cassette), only to find Hank Williams or some other such country artist inside instead. That was pretty frustrating.

This holiday season I have been thinking how I find commercials which make re-gifting out to be the spawn of the devil, to be ... well let's just say misguided. I admit if you regift a dried out old fruit cake or some hideous unrecognizable bobble-head doll to someone who doesn't specifically have an affinity for those things, that isn't really the spirit of giving. Recycled gifts however, can be! A gift to the person you are giving to as well as to the earth and our shared community. Sometimes less really is more. Sometimes homemade is just better.

To that end, I am a blur of knitting needles and yarn whenever I'm not busy doing something that keeps me from it. I have also begun prepping my youngsters with a new campaign. It goes a little like this...

Santa (who just so happens to live at the North Pole) is getting into recycling! It is a natural I say. The man calls one of the coldest places in the earth home and why wouldn't he want to save it, buying less, recycling more and lowering his footprint? My kids think that's a little weird granted, but they got quiet when I said Santa cares about the polar bears, the penguins and the seals. And I'll just bet they enjoy whatever the jolly man brings, even if it has a small dent on one side or a light that won't light at the top!

And why should we feel bad if the fabulous gift we are giving cost slightly less due to a coupon or a sale? Do we? Do you? It is the gift and the giver's intent that matters most. You are welcome to tell me if you think I'm wrong. Mind you I will also admit that one of the best gifts I ever got was a very expensive digital camera with multiple bells and whistles. The zoom lense -- thankfully -- was pre-owned! :-) The main reason I love that camera is because of what I can do with it, not because of it's cost.

Will I buy a few things directly from a store or online new? Yup but pretty much as few as possible. But I'm doing lots of surfing on Craigslist too. How about you?


  1. From now on, we don't use the word "recycled". We take a cue from Madison Avenue, and use the expression, "pre-owned." "Certified, pre-owned" if your looking for a heftier bona fide.

    Santa called, by the way. He says he's taking you off the "naughty" list and putting you on the "nice" list.

    Good job.


  2. We don't feel like we've given less if it's on sale or bought with a coupon. We do the happy dance if it is!!

    This year we are giving less as far as quantity goes too. More thought has gone in to the one thing we're giving rather than a few presents that are just blindly bought.

    I think all along you've been on the nice list. :)

  3. Elizabeth Alison12/05/2007

    In all honesty, this year has been one of the hardest Christmas' for me. As a Christian my focus is on Jesus, duh. Well this year I've really been praying and seeking God on how HE feels about Christmas, being that Jesus wasn't born in December and it is a holiday early Christians made up to counter a pagan holiday during that time period. On top of that I've been burnt out on the whole over-commercialism thing for years. We don't do Santa, since I decided that if I tell my children to believe in Santa, Easter Bunny, etc. and then later have to tell them they are fake, how are they going to believe me if I tell them God is real. All this being said, I've settled into making it a season of enjoying family and friends and making our own holiday traditions. Every year we go and decorate a gingerbread house as a fundraiser for a local children's museum. This year we went with another family and had a blast. Then we plan to go to Zoo lights - a huge light display at our local zoo. As for Jesus, I finally figured out why He never seemed as excited about His "Birthday celebration" as I did. I think He appreciates it that we try and I know He appreacites it that I'm taking the time to see what He wants instead of just going with the flow. As for me I purpose to celebrate my friendship with Jesus every day, so I just enjoy this season as a time to love others, reach out, and hopefully find a place where I can make a difference at a food bank, handing out coats, or however God would put it on my heart to help others. Blessings, Elizabeth Alison

  4. Elizabeth Alison12/05/2007

    P.S. as far as re-gifting, I think thoughtful regifting is great. My mom recently sent me a lovely soft blanket that we just don't need, so I plan to pass it on to a friend who is having a baby in a few weeks. The hard part for me is thanking the person for the gift and dealing with the guilt of knowing I won't be keeping it - especially when it's from a close family member.

  5. i have so much 'stuff' i can't imagine everything i own laid out on the ground for a photo (you MUST check out the book "Material World"). so several years ago, i told my friends and family NO MORE GIFTS. none for me, none from me. that was when i took on my policy of charitable contributions.

    whatever organization people choose is fine, although i prefer the smaller, more specialized non-profits. The Red Cross, United Way, American Cancer Society and their friends all do good works.

    but i like HELPING HANDS, the Boston non-profit that trains helper capuchin monkeys to assist and be the 'hands' for people who are paralyzed or have other severe mobility impairments.

    or FREE WHEELCHAIR MISSION, where a little under $50 buys a makeshift wheelchair for someone in a developing nation with a disability or deformity who might otherwise have to drag themselves through the dirt streets on their hands.

    or the CLEARWATER MARINE AQUARIUM, where they rescued and rehabilitated Winter, a dolphin who lost her tail to crab trap lines at the age of 3 months. and where they are successfully working to fit her with a one-of-a-kind prosthetic dolphin tail.

    or, well you get the idea. the list goes on and on. i find that reading People Magazine on a regular basis provides me with a wealth of information every year about regular people who have done extraordinary things in the service of others. i tear out their stories and keep them nearby to pass along as the opportunity arises.

    now every year when i open the christmas card from my sister and her family, it puts a smile on my face to see that they've once again made a donation to the same animal rescue organization in their area. clearly that is their favorite. not only does the donation bring me much more joy than another gift could, but it brings joy to them every year to give to the animals.

    for those with small children, it's still possible to make giving or receiving a donation a gift that contains some element of 'giftyness'. by including other related items, such as a small stuffed animal, book, coloring book and crayons, etc, that are related to the theme of the donation, it can still feel like a fun gift to wrap or unwrap.

    you can even take it a step further and make homemade wrapping for the gift and donation by making a certificate describing the gift, placing it in a plain envelope and decorating the envelope with thematic rubber stamps, photos cut from magazines, handmade drawings, etc. imagine how wonderful it could be to see your child's crayon rendition of Winter the tail-less dolphin on an 8 x 10 envelope containing the donation announcement, and addressed to their grandparents.

    JOY for the children as they participate to help an injured animal.

    JOY for the grandparents as they receive handmade artwork and see the fruits of their labors in having helped to create such thoughtful progeny.

    JOY for the parents as they reduce, reuse and recycle, helping Santa to lower his carbon footprint, while simultaneously teaching their children good citizenship.

    JOY, JOY, JOY! isn't that some of what this holiday should be about?

    the occasional real gift still gets through. sometimes i can't resist buying something that i absolutely know the recipient will LOVE. and i sometimes find that i'm on the receiving end of a small wrapped treasure. but since the days of donating have begun, those occassional gifts have become surprisingly special as well, because you know that they are very heartfelt, and not just something picked up at the mall at the 11th hour and hastily wrapped to meet the holiday gift-giving requirement.

    here's to less giving and more doing.

  6. and right now, the headline on YAHOO is the same topic - 12 Ways to De-Commercialize Christmas:


  7. Meredith12/12/2007

    very well put.

    my loved ones don't want me to overextend my budget just to buy them a christmas gift, and i don't want them to either.

    thoughtfulness is the most important thing. i view my holiday gifts as a way to show appreciation for my friends and family and, like you, i know what's really important!

    Meredith @