WITH intense global warming, ferocious typhoons, unstoppable storm surges, unpredictable earthquake, and other natural occurrences, how should we celebrate Christmas? With shortages and eventually rising prices of almost everything amid the seeming helplessness of our government to do anything about it, how do we celebrate Christmas?
By going green and creative! Some examples would be:
1. Tired of the same Christmas décors you use year after year after year? Don’t throw them away and buy new ones. Have a Christmas décor trading post. Set aside a day and time, and invite your friends and neighbors to bring Christmas décors they want to exchange with something else. This way, you get “new” décors without spending a single centavo.
2. Make your own Christmas gifts. This year I am making mango chutney as gifts to my friends and family. Make your own Christmas cards with your children. You will not only spend less (you only need paper, water color, crayons) but consider this a bonding time with them this weekend. From my urban garden, I have also dried leaves of my favorite herbs like stevia, tarragon, basil, oregano and leaves of cinnamon, laurel and native alibangbang. I will crush the dried herbs and put them in small packets with the other dried leaves will be as is. Stevia is a natural sweetener. The herbs could be used as tea. The cinnamon and laurel would go well with adobo and paksiw na pata. The alibangbang will make sinigang na baka taste sour just right. I also made sinamak (vinegar, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chili). Of course, I am giving potted plants as gifts.
3. If you need to buy, buy local and help small entrepreneurs and support your local economy. Keep money in your neighborhood. You will also commute less and not contribute to the worsening traffic situation. You will also get better service because you know them (and they know you).
4. Buy used or recycled products so that valuable goods are kept in circulation and not thrown to landfills. I buy books from Booksale at SM Malls, and knick-knacks from surplus stores like HMR in Pioneer Street, Mandaluyong City, and Japan second-hand stores around the city. I love shopping at Daiso or Japan Home Center, especially for their tissue and toilet papers. You could also include these items in you trading post—exchange things instead of buy them.
5. Show your love without buying a gift. Serve your parents breakfast in bed. Or volunteer to do certain chores at home to give your mom time to rest and do something else. Do grocery-shopping, but stick to your mom’s list and budget. Keep off the chocolate alley.
6. If you have the skills, volunteer to do some repairs around your house. I used to pay more than a thousand pesos for my monthly water consumption. Now my bill is less than P100 when I had all the leaks repaired.
7. Use Christmas lights with led bulbs.
8. Watch together the 20-minute “The Story of Stuff” video. Download it from youtube.com for free. Then you can have a hearty discussion of the subject matter and how your family could benefit from using less stuff.
9. Give the gift of service. Send over your favorite plumber or electrician or driver for cleaning, and laundry woman for a day or two to your friend’s house to help them with house repairs or clean-up. Even if they already have help, I am sure this will be appreciated.
10. Money is always green. Give cash and allow them to purchase whatever they need. I must confess that my friends and relatives have been misreading me all this time. I always get gifts that I could never use and so I simply recycle them and regift them.
11. Give donations to your special charities in their name. My favorite is World Vision.
12. Add your own.
Christmas need not be an occasion to spend our hard-earned money. It is also an occasion to go green and showcase our creativity. Remember that Christmas is about the birth of Christ. It is not about us.