The Sacredness of the Holiday Season

The sacredness of the holidays (Holy Days) bring out tradition and ceremony in the majority of us.  We put up decorations we have collected over the years and bake family recipes.  We join together in beautiful acts of kindness…like filling area food shelves, toy drives and community caroling.  These are the things that matter, these are the things that make the gift giving season truly special.

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Tradition is what you make of it… 

Tradition is the weaving of the old & the new to create something that is unique to our family.  About 10 years ago my family began the tradition of REGIFTING.  My sister Sandy and I both simultaneously REGIFTED @ our family Yule party, it was one of the best Yuletides ever. We gave beautiful, thoughtful gifts that did not generate trash (as there was no packaging), and cleaned out the stuff from our homes we no longer needed.  A few years later we started a community REGIFTING SWAP, to share the magic with others.  In the last 5 years I have been  thrilled to see the response from the community.  The REGIFTING SWAP, is truly a community event based completely on generosity.  People can come and drop off items in good quality, gift giving condition & people can come and take whatever they want for FREE!  The spirit of giving is alive at these events and people come truly filled with love, joy and community spark.  This year 2 other communities are joining in the love and holding REGIFTING SWAPS.  It’s like a dream come true for me….less waste, and more love.  You just can’t go wrong with that.


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As our REGIFTING SWAP is next Saturday (December 6th, 10-4pm @ the Grindstone Cafe in Lyndonville, VT) I am eagerly going through my stuff seeing what kind of things I can get rid of.  I honestly think I like this part the best.  It has become my annual cleaning out.  I love imagining someone else finding love in the stuff I give away.  I choose with love, sometimes getting rid of stuff I still use & like.   I do this because I believe in abundance!  I believe in a giving river that is continuously giving back.  When I give of myself, my belongings, my talents…I am contributing to this river that in turn gives back to me.  I often find the things I want and need are given to me or found somewhere at a thrift store in great condition.  This attitude is where abundance comes from.   It’s quantum physics folks, what we believe we create.  When I believe I am prosperous and have enough to share with others, I am making a statement to the Universe.   I am becoming part of the whole & that whole looks out for me as well.

For me the tradition of REGIFTING comes partially from my deep desire to take care of the planet.  I wed the Earth in sacred ceremony, inside Stone Hedge in the spring of 2011.  It is not a vow I take lightly.  My marriage to the Earth was part of my graduation into Druidry.  For me being a Steward of the Earth, or Bride of Gaia comes with great responsibility.  When making my offer of marriage I was asked what I was to give to the Earth.  My answer was communication and action.  I vowed to share knowledge through my words, knowledge on how to live a more environmental, Earth loving life.  One where we acknowledge that the Earth is a living being, that we are in a relationship with.  We need to treat our partner with love, kindness and respect.  I also vowed to walk my talk, to take action and make changes in my own life that allow me to lead by example.  I take my responsibility to heart….I believe we as a people are suffering from a disconnect to what is real and of value.  We have been caught up in a marketing nightmare which steadily streams propaganda at us telling us we need to consume more in order to be happy.

But here is the truth of it folks…money does not buy happiness!  Stuff does not fulfill us.  In fact most people end the holiday season feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and over spent.  The budget they thought they had was consumed early on and the over budget spending catches up when the fancy lights and glitter comes down.  And here is another fact, Americans generate 25% more waste from Thanksgiving to New Years.  That’s not all wrapping paper peeps…some of that waste is gifts people didn’t really want, and packaging from all our Brandy-New stuff.  We need to change our traditions.  Remember tradition is the weaving of the old and the new.  Traditions get changed, hell they have been actively being changed since the 70’s.  When I think back to my childhood, I generally got one big toy and a couple little ones for Christmas, plus some clothes, art supplies and candy.  Over the years the shear amount of gifts people need to have under the tree has exploded.  Why?  Marketing, marketing,  marketing.  Christmas stuff is out before Halloween now.  Really?  I wonder why?  Can it be that constant exposure has an effect on us?  Why yes, yes it does & the people creating the clever marketing ploys know this.  I am not telling you to give up gift giving, nor am I suggesting you never buy anything new.  What I am suggesting is that you become a conscientious shopper.  That you see through the hype and propaganda and ask yourself if it is necessary.  Those of us with wee people in the our families (children & grandchildren, nieces and nephews) need to remember we are teaching our littles what is normal.  If we show them we are educated, environmentally conscious shoppers then we will raise them to be the same.  We need to teach the next generation that less is more, take back up the old adage of  Waste not Want not.  Our grandparents lived by this motto, they strived to make it last.  Now we live in a world that teaches throw it out and get the new model.  Well that waste doesn’t just go away, it’s building up.  It’s’ time to stand up and be accountable.  Remember we are creating the world we are giving to our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.  Let us be remembered as the people who made a difference, who chose a more noble path.  A path filled with the Spirit of the Sacred.

I wish to each and everyone of you a Holiday Season filled with joy, love, laughter and sacred responsibility.  I will be posting little tips throughout the season to help you make the shift, and recreate holiday traditions that honor both family, ancestors and the earth itself.

 

spreading holiday cheer & love-salicrow

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Finding the True Holiday Spirit in a Consumer Nation…

yule 007What is the true Spirit of the Holidays?  I say Holidays because people from all cultures celebrate in some way during the Winter Solstice.  The long darkness and the return of light fuel us with a desire to gather with our tribe (friends, family & community) & celebrate.  The true Spirit of the Holidays is about giving of oneself, unfortunately this has been warped into the need to give stuff.  What was once a time of joy has for many turned into a time of high stress, sorrow and feelings of inadequacy-because we can’t afford to give all the stuff we should be giving.

This need to give stuff as a way of showing our love was brought to us by advertisers.  We are bombarded regularly with media propaganda telling us that we need to buy shit to show how much we appreciate someone & that we need to buy shit to glitz ourselves up to be presentable for those people who love us.  Because apparently our friends and family wouldn’t like us as much if we didn’t give them presents and put on a new outfit to give it to them in.  Now I am not saying there is something wrong with giving gifts or getting dressed up for the holidays.  What I am saying is the pressure to do so is being falsely created by wizards of the media world who know full well what they are doing.  They also know that people will cave to the pressure and buy just for the sake of buying if they are presented with enough posters, television adds and jingles .  Hell they go to school for this, they train in it…in many ways a form of psychological attack.

So how do we change?  How do we take back our Holidays?

First of all we decide we are not going to cave to the pressure of the Media machine.  In making a decision we are taking a stand, we are saying that we will not be brow beaten into buying things we do not want or need.  When we decide to give a gift it will be because we truly wanted to share that special something with someone we loved, not that we felt guilted into purchasing things.   One of the best ways to strengthen our resolve in this decision is to consider it a matter of ethics.  My personal ethics remind me that there is something inherently wrong with being wasteful.  Our landfills are over flowing and the world is over populated, for me to buy a bunch of cheap plastic crap that people don’t really need means I am contributing to the flow of waste that is destroying the world that I love.  In my doing so it also tells my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews that I am ok with the consumer mind.  Our young people look to us to lead by example.  The decision to step away from the media shopping frenzy does not mean that we have to stop giving gifts.  It simply means we need to be more mindful in the gifts that we give.  We can choose to be different, to be leaders and visionaries.

Look for alternative gift giving ideas-

Go back to your childhood and remember the homemade goodies people use to give, like a box of cookies or a loaf of sweet bread.  Make ornaments with your kids to give to the family instead of buying something.  Give the gift of time…this is particularly good for the elderly members of our family.  Grandma does not need another pair of slippers or 10 boxes of chocolate, what she really needs is quality time spent with her family.  Give a card with a gift certificate in it for a lunch date or an evening of playing cards, she will appreciate it a lot more then the slippers.  If you have the money to give and still want to step away from the stuff, buy the ones you love dance lessons, yoga classes, ski passes and time at the art studio.  There are so many alternatives to the media frenzy version of the Holidays.

Regifting-

My favorite, favorite holiday tradition is REGIFTING.  Years ago my sister Sandy & I both spontaneously REGIFTED at our family holiday party.  We gave away beautiful, clever, fun things that we owned and did not need or want to people in the family who we thought would really appreciate them.  It was one of the best things we ever did.  The gifts had meaning and it was one of the best holiday we ever had.  In fact it was the inspiration for our Holiday Regifting Swap which we hold annually in the are we live in.

What is the Regifting Swap & How can you start one in your area?

regiftingswapThe REGIFTING SWAP is a community event & celebration.

1.  We choose a space that is generously gifted to us so that there is no cost-(churches, town halls, & businesses will often let you use their space for free when they realize it is a community service you are providing). * You will need Tables-they are a good idea for putting things out in a way that they are appealing to look at.  We are thankful to the Grindstone Cafe in Lyndonville, VT for the generous use of their yoga/community room.

2.  Contact a local charity and see if they will accept the remainder of the items left behind from the event (Goodwill, Salvation Army & local thrift stores will usually be grateful for the donations).  We are thankful to HOPE in Lyndonville, VT for accepting our donations and the support they provide to the people of our community.

3.  Create a poster & facebook announcement letting people know about  your event.  Have them bring any GOOD quality items that are no longer wanted or needed to the event-household goods, toys, decorations, winter clothes, books, furniture, knick-knacks, jewelry, etc.

4.  People who attend can take any item at the Regifting Swap they want for FREE!  People need not donate to take items and are welcome to donate items without taking anything.  There is no set limit on how many items a person can take, this is an absolutely FREE event.

5.  As the host your job is to provide holiday cheer…we usually play festive music, dress up a bit and make sure to talk to the folks who walk through the door.  This is a new concept to most and people are shy about taking things.  Your job is to encourage them, laugh with them and make it feel like a community event.

6.  At the end of the day, donate the remainder of the items to a charity.  We are fortunate in that HOPE is across the street from the Grindstone Cafe.  We usually end up with people who are so thankful for the event that there are plenty of hands to carry the items to their next destination.  The first few years we did this we used a Unitarian Church and had to drive the items to the local Salvation Army.  We had no problem finding volunteers to load up their cars and help us make the trip.

I truly hope that the REGIFTING SWAP catches on and spreads to other communities, I know that this year the Teen Association in Bradford, Vt will also be hosting a REGIFTING SWAP.  If you have questions on how to start one in your community, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Sali@salicrow.com.  You can copy our format, posters, whatever is needed to get you started.  Let’s change the world folks!

spreading holiday cheer-Salicrow