“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
~ Mother Teresa
It’s Christmas time for many: for some, a time for celebration and renovation of faith and for others, a celebration of Winter Solstice or Yule; even for others, a time to be with family and friends and for even more, a burden that involves crazy spending and scrambling for gifts and endless decoration.
Then January is a time for regrets: of eating and drinking too much, of big bills that need to be paid, of huge amounts of packaging going to landfills and even unwanted or cheaply made gifts that end up in the trash.
Here is my small contribution to you: a list of alternatives, choose what works for your pocket, for the Earth and your community, but most importantly, for your soul:
- Give time, compassion and undivided attention: we are too busy all the time and forget how transformational is to be listened to and seeing with deep attention by another human being. Offer no judgement and no interruptions or distractions. No fixing or rushing with solutions, only empathy…you can create little “certificates” or you can post your offer to your social media circles. Or you can send individual emails to those you want to offer your unconditional attention and compassion.
- Give a service on which you are gifted yourself: You may know how to give a massage, or provide coaching, repair something, build or create something. You may be good with kids, or seniors, or animals or plants…and there’ always someone who may deeply benefit from those skills.
- If you don’t have the skill (or the time) or the person you want to benefit lives far away, considering buying a service or an experience instead of stuff: a gift certificate towards training the other person may enjoy (a PDC?*), or towards something they need or love: a spa, gardening supplies, a concernt, an event in the city, etc.
- Consider giving in different layers such as a long-term, community-based gift that reaches to many: starting a meetup group in your neighbourhood/library to discuss EDAPs*, to discover and support each other’s new path, to discuss feelings around what’s happening in the world, to share skills and fun and find support for whatever is going in your lives.
- Share resources, beauty and knowledge with others, one of the bests ways and underappreciated ways to give: blog, share in social media, post in your neighbourhood, call for an informal meeting or post on a public board things that make people smile, or are useful, or warm their hearts. It may be anything from a drawing or a cartoon to a link to free resources…use your creativity!
- Commit to do at least one work from the heart every single day: I have a friend who starts his day by sending prayers and blessing to everyone in Facebook; another who answers every single email from every single person or organization with at least one nice line of acknowledgement; there are infinite ways to give to others and make their days shine.
- Give craft created by you by upcycling things and providing instructions: with this, you are giving not only something useful and/or beautiful, you are also giving a skill.
- If you are buying something for others because they need it or you know will make their lives more whole, wrap the gift with a scarf, a throw or a handkerchief or make a cloth bag so they receive a double gift and the landfills get some respire.
- Give the gift of donation to a good cause: do some research and see how they will be using your money. Are they fully aligned with your values? How do they treat the Earth? How much of that money will go for causes you support and how much will it go to cover for administrative stuff?
- Consider supporting local artists, authors and crafters as well as farmers and markets when you buy something as a gift.
- Consider giving yourself some time off, undivided attention and compassion, to take time to listen to your own internal conversations and acknowledge them all without judging; to discover your own gifts and offering them to the world on an ongoing basis through your work, a business or your creations…
In the spirit of giving, I share here some free or inexpensive resources and services you or your loved ones may appreciate:
The Center for a New American Dream has excellent (free downloadable) booklets you can check for ideas on how to simplify the holidays with kids, seniors, pets, etc.: https://www.newdream.org/programs/beyond-consumerism/simplify-holidays/
For permies* all over the world and those sitting on the fence and curious about permaculture and how to co-create a better world, free eBooks: http://www.green-shopping.co.uk/ebooks/free-ebooks.html
Teaching (for permaculture teachers but the guidelines apply to any teacher who wants to be more inclusive and use non-violent communication and approaches: http://www.bluemountainspermacultureinstitute.com.au/resources/permaculture-teaching-matters/
Free tools for permaculture design or decoration: http://gaiacraft.com/free-tools/
Note: consider donating or buying something to those who share their skills and creations for free or make this world more beautiful and livable with their work.
Other Earth friendly gifts:
Earth to dinner table conversations and toolkit for discussing climate change: https://www.earthtodinner.org/
Climate friendly meals these holidays (and onwards): http://realfoodmedia.org/climate-meals/
Social Permaculture – Inner Permaculture: take a free non-violent communication course: http://nvctraining.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=859&Itemid=1390
A gift to yourself or to someone you trust: “Design Your Life” consultation (first consultation is free, subsequent as arranged, please find payment policy in my Ethical Pathways website: https://ethicalpathways.com/
Appointments for the above sessions can be delivered in person for people living within Lower Mainland (BC), via email, Skype or phone (for anyone else in the world). Sessions are available in English and/or Spanish. You can also give the gift of an online session with free follow ups through my “store” at Etsy: Ethical Pathways Life Coaching Promotion
Do you have fun and Earth and people-friendly ways to spend these or other holidays?
Do you have other ideas for gifts?
Please share them here in the comments section!
PDC: Permaculture Design Certificate
EDAP: Energy Descent Action Plans
Permies: people who practice permaculture