This time of year is usually a busy holiday season for many, a time of year where humans gather together to celebrate family and cultural traditions.
Many traditions include gift-giving and for many small businesses and local artisans this is a very important time of year for their success. It goes without saying that big corporate businesses make billions during the holidays through black Friday, cyber Monday, Boxing Day, and targeted advertising.
Although this time of year can be filled with overconsumption and waste it is also a time of year filled with generosity and community.
There is no time better than a pandemic when everything is turned upside down to reflect on the cycles of behaviour that are inherently unsustainable and let go. Find new traditions or reinvent old ones to be more mindful, more meaningful, and bring joy to your soul.
If you are wondering how you can move away from corporate Christmases and build meaningful traditions for you and your family for years to come, here are a few. (By the way, your family can be your pets, plants, friends, books, cyber communities and more).
Also, you don’t need to have a lot of money, or a lot of time.
Donations don’t have to be anything that breaks the bank. Find some extra socks, blankets, or canned goods and donate them to local homeless shelters for families in need.
You can donate your time as a volunteer, or donate money to support nonprofits doing amazing work in the community.
ENJOY SOMETHING MADE WITH LOVE
This time of year is traditionally about coming together, eating and practicing cultural traditions.
Bake some cookies, make soup, or if the kitchen is not your thing, find a local business and indulge in their specialty item.
As you can see - you don’t have to be a cook to enjoy homemade treats, nor do you have to have tons of time or money to donate. The intention, of giving, and enjoying something made with love can be recreated for anyone.
Put on some tunes and decorate your home, it doesn’t have to even be “themed”. Give yourself a day, an hour, even ten minutes to get distracted without guilt. Bonus points if you avoid screens.
Spend 3 minutes free writing, read a poem, a book, or an inspirational quote, listen to your favourite album, dance, sing, stare out the window, be silly, be sad!
CONNECT WITH HISTORY
2020 has been a big year for social justice. One of the major components in the future of reconciliation is understanding our history as settlers or first peoples. Take a moment to learn about your own family history, connect with an elder in your life, this will not only be meaningful to them but something you can pass down to future generations.
Take a moment to learn about the land territory you live on, learn the pronunciation, and share this with your intergenerational family.
SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Spending time outside can help with mood. Bundle up, and breath in the fresh winter air.
CONNECT WITH ELEMENTS
You don’t have to do anything special for this. Just think about some of your favourite traditions or holiday activities and note how they are connected to our planet.
Many traditions such as the polar bear swim, ice skating, snow sports, wood fires, Christmas trees, Hanukkah menorah candles all have an earth element to them.
Maybe you can have a moment appreciating all of the elements of this planet through the activities you enjoy this season.
BUILD A TRADITION
Take a moment to reflect on this time of year throughout your life. Is there something that always brings you joy, what are the elements of that activity or experience that you can re-create this year?
Is it a fancy cocktail? An ugly sweater? A terrible movie you watch every year?
Whether you buy a local chocolate bar, eat out at a local restaurant, or simply write a few 5-star google reviews for your favourite brands it always makes a huge difference!
CONSIDER SERVICE BASED INDUSTRIES
If it is within your capacity consider gifting a service this holiday. Something like a massage, acupuncture treatment, or yoga pass has a positive impact on the local economy, health benefits for the giftee (could be you!), and a significantly smaller carbon footprint than something made in another country, shipped to your door, and has a lifespan before needing to be recycled or thrown away.
The new year is often about new beginnings and fresh starts. Pick a room, closet, filing cabinet and empty it all out. Let go of what you don’t need, or simply rearrange everything to have a home and a place.