Make A Holiday Gift To Yourself, One That Saves The Planet

Entitlement is the one thing we too often feel at Christmas. It’s a holiday of excess: Black Friday, too much eating, drinking, materialism and commercialization. This is ironic, because other than celebrating Isaac Newton’s birthday (which we do every December 25th) the main point of the holiday is to celebrate a poor baby in a manger sent to Earth to save us from ourselves, as the story goes.

As inhabitants of Earth facing huge disruptions, we again need to save ourselves from ourselves. Here, put simply, is the naughty and nice list:

Good Children: No sense of entitlement, but a sense of compassion.

Bad Children: An arrogant sense of “I deserve better than everyone else.”

In this era of tragic climate change, people who survived the many 2018 hurricanes, epidemics, record-breaking fires do have something to celebrate. There is always some kind of community response to such crisis, with neighbor helping neighbor and even strangers helping strangers. We give the gift of love to ourselves every time we give to others in need, be they flora or fauna, or friend -or even, so-called-foe.

For many of us, the worst fallout from coming refugees, plagues and disasters, is yet to come. So sorry that doesn’t sound like peace on earth, but it must stand for goodwill toward men. (and women) if we are to celebrate holiday traditions for decades to come.

Thank The Creation, even if you don’t know the Creator.

You do not have to restrict yourself or shame anyone to have a more meaningful holiday. But do, please, give yourself this one favor: Thank Nature, for her beauty, bounty and support this year. We are not entitled to take from the earth and never give anything in return. Saying a quiet “thank you” allows us to take a deep breath, count our blessings, and begin a gratitude attitude for the new year.

For example, taking a December walk is the beginning of life-affirming gratitude. You could also plant a tree, gift a plant, over-winter an orphan animal, plants, or seeds. Our family tradition is to gather milkweed seeds to plant in early 2019, so the monarch butterflies can thrive. They are struggling to survive in human-affected areas. But plant some milkweed and be prepared for spring and summer wonder.

They float all over our farm and gardens, not minding fences or borders, but sharing their flying flower beauty with everyone.

There are so many things people can do to appreciate and give back to the Earth. Reduce plastic, combine errands, buy second hand, support charity, reduce meat and grease intake, travel with friends, recycle gift boxes, ribbons, and bows, or give up just one tiny thing — or more — like paper napkins, or plates. We choose durable items instead, it’s more classy to see the Earth as non-disposable. It also says more to loved ones about how much you love them that you use “the good stuff!”

In fact, most of us have already heard all these sorts of things, but here is the difference in how to think about them: When every choice comes with an awareness of what is taken and what is given, you have a multitude of choices to give back each and every day.

We know these are troubling times. People are hateful and polarized politically. But, we all need the same exact thing, a sense of belonging, a sense of shared need and struggle, a way to find that all of us can choose love of Earth, and one another. Most importantly, the Earth we save will be our own, and our triumph is the most important victory — with humility — that we could ever have. We each can work to do our very best.

Christyl Rivers is a farmer, writer, cat wrangler and Ecopsychologist in Hawaii.
Christyl Rivers is a farmer, writer, cat wrangler and Ecopsychologist in Hawaii.
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