How to Enjoy Your Holidays Infused with Community Responsibility

All a Christmas movie has to do to date itself these days is feature traffic jams and fights in mall stores over the last toy in stock.

In a hyper-inflated case of analysis paralysis, 2020 – a year that saw the gap between the lower and upper classes widen to a taut scream – reveals the reality of our choices.

If this year didn’t cost you everything, you can have anything you want.

A hummingbird-shaped hummingbird feeder for the yard? Done. A 20 pound brisket and the crockpot to cook it in? Done. A special tree that comes planted and can be returned to the soil after Christmas is over? Done. Organic clean-burn Hanukkah candles and dark chocolate ethically-sourced gelt? No problem.

Because we have so many more choices than ever before, the pressure is higher to make responsible, ethical choices.

This year, that’s a bit more intersectional than we’re used to.

Those who’ve gotten their Life Gardens organized already can simply consider their five plots and how best to approach their care-taking this holiday season.

We have to safeguard our health – because of Covid, the unbelievable rate of chronic disease in the States (largely caused by ill-functioning digestive tracts), the regular flu season, the influx of toxins and pollutants we consume, etc. We have to be wary of our environmental impact. We have to focus on small businesses because they need our support the most. We have to prioritize spending time with our families while protecting the most vulnerable, and sometimes making sacrifices that are in their best interests. We have to watch our wallets, because of the uncertainty of the economy. We have to try our best not to utilize fast fashion, disposable trinketry, wrapping paper that won’t biodegrade, plastic ornaments, etc.

Living is a full time job, and the holidays are usually the busiest season. 

Take a deep breath. We’ve got this.

Holiday Meal Swaps

Listen – it’s been a tough year. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t have cookies and milk or your favorite brisket recipe.

But let’s think about ways that we can enjoy our favorite things without causing damage to our bodies that’ll make it harder for us to enjoy ourselves later, or induce miserable Januarys overloaded with resolutions.

Try cooking with extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and avocado oil for your big meals – for their anti-inflammatory properties. 

Support your microbiome every day, either with supplements or fermented foods in your kitchen (kombucha, sauerkraut, etc.) 

Make sweets with dark chocolate, almond or coconut flour, and avoid anything with granulated sugar or brown sugar – we can get sweet enough without our harmful bacteria’s favorite snacks. Sip on cinnamon tea if you’re craving sugar!

We tend to drink more often around this time of year, as well. That’s alright – but be careful! Think about booze that’ll be friendlier to your gut – wine with living microbes or even rank your drinks by what’s less assaultive. 

Gifting without Grifting the Planet

The best way to avoid excess gifts that end up in the trash a few months later is to simply ask: 

Do they need this?

It might sound simple, but it really helps to trim the fat. We tend to think that a tree with a sparse array of gifts is somehow more sad than a tree full of them, but this year, think about how else you can achieve the same jolly feeling without spending more money on more gadgets.

Consider experience-gifts, classes, subscriptions, an affordable and socially-distanced trip away, composting services, national park passes, symbolic animal adoptions, plant a tree in their name, contribute funds toward a goal of theirs (solar panels, perhaps?), gift cards to local restaurants, personal favor IOUs, handmade gifts, or at the very list…

Gadgets that they need. Mother of four on your list? No shame in getting that instant pot! But before you click ‘buy’, always think twice.

And use sustainable and recyclable wrapping paper – there’s no reason not to!

Travel as Little As Possible

We know that car and plane travel has dropped dramatically this year, but we still have a responsibility to consider how our actions affect the bigger picture.

If you’re going to travel this year, please get tested first. Encourage your family members to get tested as well!

As much as possible, stay close to where you are geographically. Avoid planes and trains, and opt for cars and ride shares with people in your bubble where you can. If you have vulnerable family members, use the technology we have available to make sure no one feels lonely or forgotten without endangering their safety.

And try to eat local – your local farmers will certainly appreciate your patronage at their butchery or produce stand, and we know that food miles traveled makes a huge difference.

It’s hard to keep all the rules straight – there are a lot of them.

But we can think of this extra responsibility as the cost of convenience. 

Gone are the days of lugging a dozen bags through a shopping mall with hundreds of other shoppers while fitting in dinner and bath time…

And let’s hope we never go back!

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NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.