Merry, green, and bright

Dec 20, 2012 | What's New

Updated with your ideas December 20, 2012

The holidays are here, and Interfaith Power & Light wants to know what you, your family, and your faith community are doing to make them meaningful, festive, and sustainable. Share your ideas with us either via email or on Facebook, and we’ll add some to this story.

Georgia Interfaith Power & Light has suggestions galore for Hanukkah, Advent, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, and even New Year’s Eve in its new “Sustainable Celebrations” guide. Download your copy at GIPL’s website, and get good ideas on how to “return to what matters most this time of year – celebrating the goodness found in our relationships with others and with our Earth.”

Delaware Interfaith Power & Light shared this tip on its Facebook page: If you’re traveling for the holidays, turn down the heat and set the lights on timers while you’re away. Be sure to turn off your computer and other electronics, too.

Americans seem to be reconsidering the whole concept of gift-giving, with handmade, recycled, and tastefully re-gifted presents all on the rise. The social media site Pinterest is a boon for people who want to share and find DIY gift  ideas. Charitable donations are taking on new resonance this year; many Interfaith Power & Light supporters choose to honor loved ones through our Carbon Covenant Gifts of Life program. A writer for Grist even made it on to ABC’s 20/20 with his suggestion that presence, not presents, make for a happier family at Christmas.

How have your gift-giving habits changed over the past few years? What will you do differently this year?

What steps are you taking to make your holiday traditions more sustainable for Creation and more spiritually meaningful, too? What is your faith community doing: on your Sabbath day, via service projects, in your care for Creation? Email and tell us now, or post your ideas on Facebook.

Here are some more ideas we’ve received:

The Center for a New American Dream has a good “Simply the Holidays” pledge featuring 15 ideas on how to celebrate the holidays with “more joy and less stuff.”

Grist held a “Shift the Gift” Twitter chat on December 11 that generated many good ideas, including these: offbeat food gifts; pillow cases as gift wrap; 2013 calendars from local organizations; performing arts tickets and other fun family experiences; memberships to local museums; and personalized coupon books. Go to Twitter and search on #shiftthegift for more ideas.

Some ideas from the Interfaith Power & Light Facebook page, where you can add yours, too:

Tina Blackmore Gurdikian writes, “We took our over-abundant zucchini crop from our garden this summer and turned them into a freezer full of zucchini bread, which will be our gifts to teachers, neighbors, and friends this year.”

Susanelou Samsa Adair looks forward to her annual Christmas Eve tradition of staying home and listening to  Handel’s Messiah as performed by the choir of King’s College Cambridge. “We need a quiet celebration this year, and a spiritual one,” she adds.

Robin Blakeman writes of “buying as much locally produced food as I can” and “working to end mountaintop removal coal mining and deep well gas fracking in Central Appalachia.” Don’t forget your social action and environmental justice work during the holidays. At a time of year when we are especially called to love our neighbors, people may be even more receptive to these important campaigns.

Joyce Almaguer-Reisdorf writes,”Our Christmas tree is a Norfolk pine that will live in our house year-round for a few years until it is too large, and then will be given away to someone with more space. The plant brightens our house, functions as a prop for my kids’ imaginations, and is great for the indoor air. … Our Jesse tree is a rosemary plant that will live in my mom’s yard once spring returns. Our Christmas wreath is made of newspaper tied around a metal coat hanger that has been stretched into a circular shape; my kids get a kick out of it! Gift wise, things for the kids are simple: edible, or recycleable, repairable, and/or reuseable (like books, yarn). Hubby and I haven’t really done gifts for each other in a while as the thing we are in need of most is actually just our time! Around this time we like to go someplace quiet (hard to find here!) and look for stars and appreciate the coldness and the darkness. It’s beautiful.”

Cora Rose says, “We save gift bags and tissue paper to reuse, and make gifts or give donations instead of buying plastic ‘stuff.’ We wish out landlord would install solar so our tree could be lit up and our hot cocoa warmed by the sun!”

Sharing experiences with family and friends — or being present with them, in other words — can beat giving presents. Cricket Eccleston Hunter writes, “We’re giving our kiddos a trip to New York on the Megabus (always full, so low per-capita emissions) to see Stomp! We’ll stay at the Days Inn (Wyndham hotels get a “striding” rating on Climate Counts). Memories over stuff.” Victor Calvin Hoe mentions green options for your holiday adventures, too: “San Diego has the Car2Go rental electric cars (as in some other cities). The San Diego Zoo has part of a parking lot with SOLAR panels for recharging the cars.”

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