I don’t want to seem ungrateful, Santa, and I hope all is well at the North Pole. I know this year’s supply chain issues may make on-time deliveries tough, but I have a few ideas to lighten your load–and help the planet.
Could we make gift-giving more environmentally friendly?
You’re pretty eco-savvy already. After all, you’ve been driving reindeer for years, and they are fuel-efficient and carbon-free, if you don’t count the energy it takes to grow hay and clean up reindeer poop.
Plus, you’ve been wearing the same red suit for years. Bravo for that.
It’s not your sleigh rides that concern me. It’s all the Amazon shipments going to the North Pole for free delivery on Christmas day.
Santa, you have credibility (currently in short supply among many world leaders), so you’re well-positioned to ask people to chill on the Amazon thing.
It’s killing our little island post office. They can’t keep up with the Amazon shipments, so packages pile up, customers get mad, and employees quit.
And I bet the load’s not fun for your elves, either.
Of course, there’s the perennial question: Do we need more stuff? Holidays are a time of gift-giving, and I love gifts, so here are some eco-friendly Amazon alternatives.
Old gifts in new packages
Over the years, I’ve given my husband a number of books, including the expensive coffee table kind with pictures, which he loves until they go up on the bookcase, never to be seen again. I’m thinking of gift-wrapping a couple for Christmas. Do you think he’ll remember? (Or is that taking too much advantage of his advancing age?)
In my collection, I have books on creativity and art that I planned to read but haven’t, so he could wrap them for me, and then I would say, “Honey, these are wonderful,” and read them to please him. Or he could wrap the lovely false-suede jacket hanging in my closet because it looks new. It’s part of the collection of nice clothes I haven’t touched since March 2020, when I switched to the pandemic look: stretch pants and sweatshirts.
Your favorite things
Remember the wonderful song in the Sound of Music? Just add a line to make it These are a few of my favorite things that I’m giving away.
Then ask Julie Andrews to update her version.
Pick some favorite people who would love to receive a few of your favorite things. That way, you spread the love and lighten your load.
Note: this is not the same as a white elephant event, which is disrespectful to elephants because they only eat what they need, share with each other, and don’t pass their trash around masquerading as gifts.
By this, I don’t mean a luxury trip to the North Pole that would not, I’m afraid, be carbon neutral. I’m thinking of local, small, and fun.
I’m thinking of giving my husband a trip to the local movie theatre with a promise to hold his hand and eat a large popcorn together. You might think that both together is excessive, but popcorn is the only way our local movie theatre stays afloat and the hand, well, it’s nice.
Walks or time together
If you are my friend and want to give me a gift, promise me a walk, even in the rain. Or let’s get together in person or on Zoom and sing. Or plan an hour on the phone to share our stories.
Don’t tell my husband, but I’m also going to give him an evening of answering questions and telling stories using relationship counselor Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin a Game of Stories (a box of questions I gave him last Christmas).
These are good gifts when they include a promise of time together.
I still bless the friend who gave me an hour of gardening time for my birthday. What about offering to sit with a friend while they sort through their closet or drawers so they can give away stuff? I would like that gift.
Or offer to read the book a friend is writing? (Hint, hint–I promise to read yours.)
A little bit of appreciation can be the best gift of all when it comes from the heart. And a note of gratitude becomes something to treasure.
I like gifts, but giving me notice of the goat in Mongolia you donated in my name doesn’t quite cut it. On the other hand, a personal note to me (see above) and the goat donation would be wonderful. Check out Heifer International or your favorite charity.
Santa, you could do a lot to help people think local and carbon-free and cut down on the need to manufacture and ship more stuff. Tell people to add love to the packages, not plastic ribbons or bows.
As my favorite globe-trotter, you could take these ideas viral because people trust you a lot more than Twitter. And I know you want to avoid reindeer burnout or the labor force shortages facing the rest of the world.
Most of all, though, I want to thank you. You’ve brought smiles to a lot of children’s faces–the biggest eco-gift of all.