autumn days

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the gift of love (with less packaging)

Dear Hannah,

We have just made it through another holiday season full of love and wrapping paper.  In previous years I have wrapped all my gifts in comics, but generally every year of my life and yours, we have given and received gifts wrapped in lots of taped up shiny paper.  This year my understanding of the process is a little different.  I could have saved several trees at this point if I'd thought out the wrapping process earlier, but this is a learning process for all of us from our various starting points. For example, my parents and I now give all our gifts to one another in homemade cloth bags.  Thankfully your grandma has time to make them and loves to share with us.

My friends and I were talking about the waste involved in parenting.  We as parents can try to limit the waste our family produces, but it is harder to control what comes into our homes in the form of thoughtful gifts.  As a parent whose children receive so much stuff, be it clothes or plastic toys, is there a way I can help my children receive gifts that won't harm them or the environment?  Is is alright for me to let my family and friends know expectations of gifts?  It sounds so culturally uncool, self-centered, and just wrong to lay down guidelines for well-intentioned gift-givers.  Let me attempt it here (below) and send out the word before we hit birthdays and holidays again next year.  May next year be mostly devoid of the mountain of packaging waste.

Much love,
your mama

writing love letters

Dear Family and Friends,

We are so thankful to have you in our lives and grateful for your expressions of love towards our children.  If you are able, we'd love to receive gifts that are specifically useful and healthy for our family.  Below is a list of ideas for gift-giving and receiving.  If we may reciprocate by providing a specific gift for your family, please let us know.
  • a handmade gift
  • a handwritten love letter, poem, story, or song
  • An I owe you gift certificate for spending quality time together (meal, picnic, park day, etc.)
  • a charitable donation made in our name
  • a picture of us spending time together
  • set up a treasure hunt for us
  • bring ingredients and a favorite recipe to make a healthy meal with our little ones
  • second-hand wooden learning toys from yard sales, craigslist, freecycle
  • healthy local foods, home-canned goods, or Bob's Red Mill cereals
  • USA-made craft projects with minimal packaging and chemicals
  • a cassette tape full of you reading your favorite children's books
  • goods from our baby registry
  • money for community center classes, Ceramicafe visits, or museum or zoo membership
  • money for our favorite gardening store (Seven Dees or another local nursery)
  • babysitting time
  • a donation in our name to a local library or one of our favorite non-profit charities
 My parents had the great idea of giving gifts in fabric bags, and left no paper trail behind them.  If you'd like to have less wrapping debris in your home, come join us for a craft party to make fabric bags.  Please feel free to share your ideas for how we can create less waste while sharing the love.  Again, thank you so much for your generosity and thoughtfulness when it comes to showing your love for our children.

Many thanks and warm wishes,
Hannah and Family

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