Monday, November 24, 2008

A 100-Mile Holiday

This year my family has decided to celebrate the holiday by being a little kinder to the environment, and to ourselves.

I must start by saying we have never been extravagant spenders at Christmas. My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years and raised two amazing children, and our one “rule” about the holidays has always been that if we couldn’t afford to pay cash for gifts and other holiday items, we didn’t buy them.

This year we’ve decided, as a family, to take this one step further.

We’re having a 100-mile holiday.

As much as possible, everything under the tree and served at Christmas dinner will come from a 100-mile radius of where we live. This might not save much money, but that’s not really our goal. The things we buy will not be shipped halfway around the world, so we hope to minimize our ecological footprint and support our local economy.

At first I wasn’t sure we could pull it off—and I’m still not one hundred percent convinced we can—but we’re going to give it our best shot.

Christmas dinner shouldn’t be a problem. I always buy a locally raised, organic turkey, and there’s lots of fresh, local produce available. A number of local vineyards produce stellar wines, so that’s covered, too! The flour in the bread stuffing will have to come from afar–no wheat fields here on the west coast—but we’ll be sure to use locally baked bread.

So what about gifts? Believe it or not, that’s been the really fun part. Without giving too much away—my family reads these posts!—I can safely say this will be an interesting Christmas.

Local craft fairs offer lots of options—hand-knitted socks and scarves and mittens, unique works of art, consumables (pickles, jams and hand-rolled beeswax candles, etc.), and gorgeous one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments.

We’ve even purchased wonderful little stocking stuffers that have an added bonus—the sellers are donating all proceeds to a local charity.

And after thirty-one years of marriage, my husband and I are enjoying the quality time spent choosing gifts at craft fairs. Who knew?

A few people on my gift list will receive gift certificates this year, and I'm kind of hoping they plan to reciprocate ;). The possibilities are practically endless. Grocery stores, thrift stores, house cleaners, manicurists, massage therapists, hair dressers, auto mechanics, gardeners, university bookstores, daycare centers, dog groomers, etc., all offer gift certificates.

So, can my family do this? Will there be compromises? Exceptions? You bet there will. We’ve already decided we can live with a few.

Books make great gifts but there are no publishing companies where we live. However, we can buy books from locally owned, independent booksellers.

Recycled items are often just as good as new, so if something comes from a secondhand store, or a thrift store that supports local charities, the item itself can have originated more than 100 miles away.

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year—I really do love it—and I’m looking forward to this one more than any other I can remember. For me, it’s all about family. I love to decorate the house and prepare the food and spend Christmas Day with the people I love. And when you think about it, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

This year I also hope to do the holidays in a way that’s eco-friendly and stress free, and I hope for the same for you and your family.

Until next time,
Lee's blog
Lee's website


Gillian Layne said...

Lee, this is a neat idea! We are doing this to a small extent; we are not traveling out of town to buy any gifts, and all the food and other necessities for the holidays is at least being purchased locally.

It's like a fun challenge, and benefits everyone.

Lee McKenzie said...

Enjoy the holiday, Gillian! Sounds as though you're already getting into the spirit of things!

Anonymous said...

I love this idea!

Books by local authors, bought from local shops. Socks knitted by local people from local sheep or alpaca wool.
Local jams and pies and…well, yum!

For a few years, I have given my nieces and nephew Something to Do for their birthday and Christmas gifts. They could choose an activity, and I would pay for it (their parents got the final say on safety, I got the final say on cost). It worked really well. They learned to rock climb, they played laser tag, went on horse-drawn carriage rides…. And, while my offer included them doing these things with a friend, they always asked me to do it too – such a bonus for me!

I'd love to hear more about your new adventure after Christmas, Lee – please post some of the brilliant ideas your family comes up with.


Lee McKenzie said...

Rachel, the activity gifts for your nieces and nephews sound perfect. And you've given me another gift certificate idea - passes to movie theatres.

I'll definitely do a post-Christmas wrap-up on our 100-mile holiday. Look for it on my personal blog.

Anonymous said...

What an awesome idea, Lee. Making Christmas ornaments and baking sugar cookies in Christmas shapes and decorating them is something my grown children still want to do each year. And it looks like my daughter will pass that on to her son.

Getting our Christmas tree from a local tree farm is also a tradition. How can you beat being out in that crisp fresh air searching for the 'perfect tree'?

I second Rachel's request for updates!


Estella said...

What a neat idea!

Loreth Anne White said...

Lee -- this is a truly awesome idea. If anything, it makes everyone in the family think about where things come from, about ethical choices, the environment. I love the idea of you browsing craft fairs with DH -- it's not only like the 100 mile diet, it's like slow food. A slower Christmas, a more together Christmas. And something that can spill over into different kinds of choice in the New Year.

I am definitely going to think about trying this.

Thanks for sharing!

Lee McKenzie said...

Sheryll, I'll definitely post a couple of holiday updates. Meanwhile, enjoy your search for the perfect tree!

Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks, Estella! I hope your holiday season is wonderful in every way.

Lee McKenzie said...

Thanks for dropping by the blog, Loreth Anne. If you decide to give the 100-mile a holiday a try, I'd love to hear how it goes for you.

And I love your comparison to slow food. I always equate slow food to comfort food.

Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lee, I will follow your example regarding the food for Christmas dinner. Not too hard since I'm already weaning myself off exotic treats like pineapple and papaya. As for the presents, I'll strive towards Rachel's idea, especially good for grandkids who have several siblings' toys to play with.(however, Santa is slow to change and has purchased a few non-local toys) Sports programs, music programs seem to be what is needed.
Slowing down is a great antidote to Christmas frenzy. I vow personally to make time to listen to Christmas music. I will also listen to the birds still flocking to the feeders. Thanks for the great 100 mile holiday idea.

Lee McKenzie said...

Hi, Marion. I think it's important to do what we can, to do what we feel right about doing, and to not make ourselves crazy by trying to change everything at once.

I hope you and your family - especially those grandbabies! have a wonderful holiday. I plan to follow your example and take time to listen to the music.