California Bowling Writers

December 3, 2007

Homegrown Holiday
By Louisa Arndt

Hello Neighbors!

Stores are already filled with holiday stuff. Tons and tons of it! Most of it comes from China or other overseas nations. It’s transported in ships and, planes, off-loaded onto tractor trailer rigs to be hauled across the country to malls large and small, and then we shoppers drive to the mall to buy the stuff and bring it home. Bunker oil, jet fuel, diesel fuel, gasoline — all made from oil.

A lot of this stuff is made of plastic, packaged in plastic, and stuffed into plastic bags for us to carry home. Plastics made from oil.

Hmmmnn. This would all seem to be very fossil-fuelish!

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice, most of the celebrations involve “gifts” and, in today’s world, “gifts” means “buying stuff.” Our megabillion-dollar advertising industry works tirelessly to convince us that “love” is measured by “stuff,” and the more you spend, the more you love. We respond by whipping out our credit cards while shutting out the knowledge that in January we will find ourselves even deeper in debt, and with even more stuff to be stuffed into our closets and garages.

Is this really the way we want to spend a joyous holiday season? I think not, and so I offer some suggestions for making this holiday home grown. Here are some of the benefits of a homegrown holiday. Together, we can

Save the holidays!
Save the economy by reducing the national consumer debt!
Save the children from toxic toys!
Save the Bay from oil spills from ships that carry the toxic toys that China’s low-wage labor built!
Save the jobs at home!
Save the air!
Save the environment!
Save on oil and gas!
Save your money!
Save your family by doing family things together!
So Ho! Ho! Ho! and Save! Save! Save!

Have yourself a wonderful homegrown holiday!

Some suggestions for creating your own homegrown holiday:
Slow down. Sleep in. Hold conversations. Listen to music.
Get the whole family involved, including your pets.
They’re part of the family too, and they make activities more fun!
Take walks, hikes, bike rides. Dine by candlelight. Watch birds.
Play Frisbee, croquet, badminton, tag football.
Read books. Tell stories. Remember family adventures. Tell jokes. Laugh.
Play games – board games, word games, card games, raucous games, games to make you laugh.
Volunteer to help serve a holiday meal to the poor and homeless.
Volunteer at an animal shelter, classroom, hospital, retirement home.
Visit the elderly with your well-mannered pet.
Throw parties. Go caroling. Have a slide show. Make a scrapbook.
Invite friends to bake cookies or make gingerbread houses.
Have friends over for brunch, or lunch, or afternoon tea.
Go to the ballet, symphony, concert, a play — stay local if you can.
Design your own greeting cards, write notes to go with them, and e-mail them.
Take family pictures. Mail or e-mail them instead of cards.
Collect cones, acorns, wood roses, teasels, seed pods and make a wreath.
Go to the local craft fair — the Farmers’ Market — the local park.
Make music. Write a poem or a song. Invite friends for a sing-along.
Read a story — take turns, a few pages each evening.
Set up trains. Have a puppet show. Organize a treasure hunt. Play charades. Dance.
“Decorate” a tree outside for the birds. Fill pine cones with peanut butter and hang them out
Lots of activities — but only if they’re fun!
Still, it IS the season of giving!
Give essentials, fruit, a piece of the Rainforest or Coral Reef.
Consider a gift of chickens or bees or a sheep through the Heifer Project to help people and the planet.
Shop locally, so the money recirculates within your community. Think “green.”
Make toys. Bake bread. Sew an apron or pillow. Plant a pot of bulbs.
Give a “chore” — lawn mowing, yard raking, shrub pruning, car wash, grocery shopping.
Most of all, give your time — all those hours you would have spent shopping for stuff.
Give that time, joyously, with love, to those you hold dear.

Happy Holidays!