The Gift of Time: Extending the Holiday

Dec, 04, 2012

By Sherry Wright

We know the scene: piles of packages, a feeding frenzy opening them, exclamations of ooh! and aah!, expressions of thank you, and hugs and kisses, and excitement!!!

Then it stops.

My husband and I asked ourselves if this was really what we wanted, a nano-second of the year to enjoy unfettered materialism. Don’t get me wrong. We love giving gifts and there is definitely a place for them. We simply wanted to give something more than a thing, more than a mass produced item. Something kind of unique and tailored to the person.

My husband suggested our own “green” gift-giving quite some years ago, and I’d like to share what we do. We listen and we watch. We try to figure out what our sons and their families “need” or wish for that we can provide during the following year. Then, using old cards, the computer, comics, etc., we create Christmas “gift certificates.” These coupons explain what we will do for them during the year at a mutually agreeable time. Sometimes they are riddles; sometimes they are rhymes.  Or not.

What kinds of “gifts” are they? Generally, they are activities, chores, errands and so on that we know (based on what we’ve seen/heard) will come in handy at some point during the next year. For example, we have given the following gifts: silver polishing, dog-sitting, car detailing, a day of running errands, cooking/baking for a dinner party — among other things. And the conversations that these presents begin! We have a great time brainstorming when, why and even where they can “collect” on these promises.

 But do not be mistaken about cost. Yes, this can be very inexpensive — or no monetary cost at all, a real advantage. Or it can be very expensive. (Take, for example, the Christmas coupon I gave for a dinner party for 6 to be served at their house!)

Yes, we still give them a few physical gifts, stocking stuffers, etc., a few somethings to open … but our family look forward to cashing in the coupons.

The important thing is to let your imagination work. Once you start really observing and listening, you will notice their needs or wants. What we give, truly, is our time. And we cannot get more time. It is a precious gift.

Sherry Wright

A transplant from Maryland in 1998, I have found California to be a great place for the current chapter of my life. As someone with various and numerous interests, the opportunities here have been abundant. And with each opportunity has come responsibility always to do what is right — for the job, other person(s) involved, self, and planet. As a child, I thought nothing of helping Mom tear up our old clothes that could no longer be mended, and braid it into rugs. Nor did I think that making/wearing clothes from feedbag was unusual. We spent weekends from spring to fall helping in our grandmother’s “garden.” As a young teen, I realized that a “garden” didn’t require a tractor — which we needed. Of course, we ate well all year. What else could we ask for? As a mom, I found that everyday life provided opportunities to model behaviors that taught respect and stewardship of the environment . . . and let me tell you, it has paid off! Our older son and his partner raise their own veggies and fruit, fertilized by their own compost; and they collect eggs from their own chickens. Our younger son founded a non-profit called 4WallsInternational, committed to rescuing Mother Earth. By using discarded tires, cans and bottles as building blocks for sustainable off-the-grid homes for the poorest of the poor in Mexico, he hopes to clean up the Tijuana River and its estuaries. I now edit for Green-mom, which is great because I get information already researched by our writers. And I take it to heart. I thought I was “green” before, but the information in the articles has had its impact, believe me! There’s always something more to learn, like soap nuts for laundry. The articles provide real, down-to-earth help. I feel that my current profession is a natural progression of sorts. I recommend reading Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree for an even better understanding of where I’m coming from. Oops! That’s the English teacher in me coming out!

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Press Kit
Book - Zero Waste for Families
Watch for Free in Oct
Zero Time To Waste Film Poster

Get weekly UPdateS

Let’s stay in touch so we can take this journey together!