During the holidays, the refrain we hear so often is,
It isn't stuff that we need so much, but the idea behind it that counts.
We might shrug the words off, but the idea is right, especially in times
like these when our buying power is limited and the planet earth needs
greater TLC by its inhabitants. Not that I am a flag-bearing ecologist
or an extremist vegetarian, but the thought of meaningful but
eco-friendly gifts struck me yesterday, as I watched an exquisite sunset
in South Florida.
Our earth is a breathtakingly beautiful place if we could look at it with alien eyes; the photo of our blue planet taken from the space is a proof for that. Yet, for our petty ends, we disrespect it, clutter it, thrash it. Could any one among us destroy a piece of art if we knew it would be worth billions of dollars in a few years? The earth, too, is highly valuable; except, its worth cannot be measured in currency but in the quality of human life, for which no price is good enough.
If we want to value our planet while creating happiness through gift giving, a good start is to offer re-usable, recycled gifts that are considerate of the environment. Those of us who have little time can order their gifts from businesses in their community and from websites online that are eco-friendly.
It makes good sense to give gifts that have several uses built into them. A few good examples are solar-powered purses, backpacks, and messenger bags designed as mobile generators for charging cell phones, cameras, PDA's, and MP3 players. Solar powered watches make exquisite gifts, also.
Another wonderful gift could be a pet from the local pound. Giving the pet a good grooming with thorough medical check-up and the required shots and then offering it as a present can bring tears of joy to the eyes of the receiver. A caution here is to check with the receiver or the receiver's parents first. Gifting a pet into an irresponsible household can be a terrible thing to do.
When a writer-friend who is a member of the same site as I am decided to crotchet her gifts, all site members rejoiced. If giving a gift means giving a bit of oneself to the other person, what better way is there than spending one's time constructing that gift?
Little stocking stuffers like finger and hand puppets can be hand-sewn or crocheted very easily; homemade plush toys are longer lasting and less dangerous than most of the toys on the market. For the gardener in one's gift list, potted plants and garden equipment are always delightful gifts and they show the gift giver's love for nature and respect for earth.
Reusable cloth shopping bags make good party favors and stocking stuffers. Cloth pieces from the ends of bolts are sold for pennies, and they make good wraps for gifts. Several years ago, lacking any gift-wrapping paper, I sent a gift, wrapped in cloth and tied with hair ribbons, to my friends in a third world country. They wrote to tell me that it made them the happiest, because they made the cloth wrapping into a baby pinafore, and using every part of the gift was the extra bonus that came with the gift. To this day, I think, my friends loved the wrapping better than the present in it.
Considerate gifts take a little time and some imagination. In addition to time and imagination, while giving gifts of celebration, why not pamper the planet as well? After all, this magnificent earth is our only home.
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