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'Tis the Season of Good Intentions...

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Coming into the holidays can be like the day before the start of a new diet. I am not going to buy anyone useless junk. I'm going to bake cookies or give them entirely sustainable items knitted together by local small business owners who need start-up capital and make stuff nearby so that I can pick it up on my bicycle, thus avoiding fossil fuel shipments. I walked around in this happy cloud of intentions for weeks.

Thanksgiving came and went. But I was not yet sufficiently inspired to find said local small business owners. Finally, as the Hanukkah lights started to twinkle and cars began to drive by sporting Christmas trees strapped to their roofs, I found myself thinking about the folks on my holiday list. Most of them live in homes already crammed with too many things. But when I conjure up images of myself baking gifts for the kids, who mostly cook better than I do, or consider giving my husband some little homemade craft, I picture their quizzical expressions.

So the time of compromise has begun. I will try not to buy from Amazon. I will give the business to mom and pop shops instead. Okay, but the gift suggestions that came in for family members are all on Amazon. And they do seem like useful, practical items. Besides, I can't imagine where else I could go to buy it. So a couple of Amazon orders go in. But what can you do? I will give myself a pass—just this once.

Then I noticed the stack of holiday catalogs accumulating on the desk. On my way to the recycling bin, an LL Bean catalog fluttered from my grip. Darn, don't they make the best bed linens, and wasn't that exactly what someone on my list needed? In went the order. But then there were other things in the catalog that were also pretty nifty, and you do need to make sure you qualify for the free shipping, don't you?

Well, I suspect that you can see where this is going. This year, as in years past, I will do my best. The folks on my list will get things that are quasi-sustainable, but not really. This is me caving into the pressure.

Ideally, I should be making folks delightful consumables, or beautiful useful things, or I could be doling out little gifts of needed cash. The planet would take a bow to my good sense, and I could slide through the holidays feeling virtuous. But I suspect all of this is just a wish. The one thing I can promise, I will keep single-use plastics off of my shopping list—I guess we've all got to start somewhere.

In an ideal world, when appropriate, I’d give out cash gifts to my young family members who are old enough to shop for themselves. It would only need to be the cash that I would have spent, or I could also just give them gift certificates Then they can buy themselves things that they truly want. But it just feels like I’m not trying hard enough.

So instead, I end up with that shopping cart full of good intentions. As Mom used to say, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Still, I haven't finished all of the shopping yet, so maybe there's time to do better.

What do you do to celebrate the holidays in a sustainable way?

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