…unlike the ones I used to know

Who doesn’t know the words and melody to the classic and always popular song White Christmas, written by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby in the 1942 movie by the same name?

It’s a song that our parents and by association, our generation grew up with, and it remains well known by young people today. It became a tradition in many households. I mean, c’mon, whose Christmas Day didn’t feature that movie’s soundtrack LP being played on the living room Hi Fi or record player – every year?

It’s amazing the number of musicians and singers who produced their own version of the song – from Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra to Rosemary Clooney’s rendition in 1954, to The Drifters’ release in 1956, and Michael Bublé’s 2003 bouncy version accompanied by Shania Twain. Just goes to show how popular it really is.

But Back to the Green Christmas Dream

With all that being sung, or said, this year we’ve decided to celebrate with a greener Christmas. One unlike those of the past, but no less as enjoyable. If the pandemic taught us anything, it taught us that “stuff” in excess wasn’t necessary for us to have a good time. The hardest part and the biggest setback was that families couldn’t get together.

The pandemic and its mandated lockdown made us more aware of our past Christmas spending and how we could actually make do with less. Fewer lights, less wrapping paper, less tinsel and glitter. Our gift giving was more thoughtful and conscientious.

And no, we’re not Scrooges. Our holiday celebrations last year under lockdown were confined here at home to just the two of us and our connections with family and friends were virtual. There was no extravagant exchange of gifts wrapped in excess fancy paper, even greeting cards were handmade or created online and delivered by email. Gifts more suited to indoor activities and to snuggling down for the winter were bought online or handmade and delivered by the likes of Amazon, Wayfair and FedEx. Dinner was just the two of us accompanied by a Zoom celebration with our family members near and far. We actually had a lot of fun!

How Green is My Valley?

In all, it was actually quite green. Throughout the season, a very grateful and thankful ambiance pervaded. But we feel we can do better.

So, this year we’re determined to do just that. How you ask?

Well, for a start:

  1. Swap out excessive consumption and waste for more eco-friendly items, recycled products and greener choices. Buying local is a good first step.
  2. Create your own decorations from natural materials – enlist your children or the grandchildren – get them involved. There are plenty of craft ideas everyone can explore and create together. Popcorn garlands, coloured recycled paper chains, hang dried fruits and berries and homemade cookies from ribbon. This is how memories are made and traditions forged.
  3. Illuminate your Christmas tree with energy-saving LED lights, but also use them to light up your exterior décor.
  4. Decorate your door. Take the family for a hike and go foraging for the elements to make your own wreath (or table centerpiece) from spruce or pine greens, pinecones and twigs, moss, some ribbon and cut out paper stars or snowflakes. Source dried flowers, like end of summer dried hydrangea blooms. Tie them together with colourful, natural raffia. Replace wrapping paper with pretty reusable fabric and ribbons known as Furoshiki like the Japanese do.
  5. Give handmade gifts. Knit, crochet, sew. Make your own candles. Give home-baked goods. Purchase locally made products – maple syrup, preserves, artisanal candies and chocolates, regional wines. Give gift certificates for natural products or make charitable donations on someone’s behalf.
  6. Try to make sure the gifts you give will be useful and thoughtful. An I.O.U. written out on a pretty card is great to receive/give – for example… babysitting, yard work, help with chores like laundry, housework, gardening or snow shovelling, doing odd jobs, making meals, reading a book out loud to a grandparent or sibling, taking someone shopping. These are things even youngsters can offer up as green gifts, especially for their grandparents who could probably use some help with chores. Other great choices that are environmentally friendly include passes to museums, parks and outdoor activities and events. All are wonderful alternatives to the usual store-bought gift.

A little effort, with some thoughtful planning can net all of us a greener holiday season. And if our experience has taught us anything, the rewards are far more long lasting and special in the end.