A little bit about giving gifts with love.
I was a consumer kid. My two best friends growing up came from very upper middle class families. These were the types of families where all of their children received a car on their 16 birthday, and maybe ACTUALLY got a pony for Christmas when they asked Santa for one. My family…. did not belong to this upper echelon of society. Therefore, growing up I spent the majority of my social time around a style of living I could not have: massive chests of play clothes, American girl dolls, shelves upon shelves of briar horses, and buckets of stuffed animals. My childhood is filled with the phrase “I WANT”.
This all changed with a very memorable guilt trip. Some guilt trips work for a day, others (like this one) last a lifetime. It started with my participation in my family’s yard sale. Consumed with the thought of money, I grabbed half of my stuffed animals and sold them off. A little while later, I wanted to buy a new stuffed animal with the resulting money. My mother or father (I don’t remember which) asked me why I wanted to buy a new animal, when my current ones were lonely because I never played with all of them. After that comment, I sat in my room consumed with guilt. It was true. I didn’t love all of my stuffed animals. In fact, I didn’t love AND I casually sold them off to whatever child would take them. My bears and stuffed ponies glared at me in sadness and hurt. I just sold their friends. I never loved them. I was SUCH A TERRIBLE PERSON.
“That’s it,” I told them. “I’m done.” I vowed to try and not buy any new animals, to try and love all the ones that I had, and to NEVER EVER sell or get rid of them EVER again. “You’re safe with me,” I said. “This is your home.”
A promise is a promise, no matter how small you are when you make it. To this day, I still cart around a huge trove of stuffed animals. Jesse and I are planning on downsizing to a much smaller house one day, and living a minimalist life style. Little does he know that I plan on trucking all of my stuffed animals with me.
I am thinking of these events because of the holiday season. A few days ago, I spent hours wrapping up stuffed animals and other presents (donated by Toys for Troops) for the Air Station Sacramento Coast Guard Children’s Christmas party. These stuffed animals were of middling quality, the leftovers from Christmas’ past at California toy stores, and I couldn’t help but think of how many stuffed animals Air Station Sacramento’s children were going to be receiving this year. These poor bears, made without love by a dirt poor family in China, were first casually rejected by the store that bought them. Now, I was wrapping them up to be sent into a loveless relationship with a child. The best they could hope for was a few hugs, before being cast aside for something better. After that, their fate would be the trash, a garage sale, or to be left in a basement. They would be forgotten. My best hope was that maybe one little bear would be donated to Goodwill, and eventually bought for a small child who would love it.
What an existence for today’s toys. Made without love and without thought, purchased and given for no particular reason, most never truly appreciated and discarded like trash. What a lesson to teach our children. Everything is a consumable. Childhood best friends, undeserving of loyalty, each item given up with ease for the newer, shinier, more electric model. In the US, over 40 million toys are thrown away each year.
I am not against presents. One of my favorite memories is of a Christmas where the presents never seemed to end. I got everything I wanted that year, from a Pooch My Come Here Puppy, to a remote-control car. I was so happy. Ecstatic. It wouldn’t be until Jesse came home for our first Christmas with my family, that I felt that feeling of fullness, where I couldn’t possibly imagine being happier.
However, I also know that most of the presents I received on that day were never appreciated. Soon I became consumed with school and didn’t have time for toys. Also, the things I thought I wanted? Well, they weren’t actually what would have made me the happiest in the long run.
I love presents. I love Christmas. Yet I know now that the most meaningful word in those two phrases isn’t presents, or Christmas, but love. Presents should not be given just because you believe you should be giving presents. They should not be given because someone asked, because it makes you feel good, or even just because you can. They should be given, because there is love in every step of the gift giving process. You find a toy or a gift, that was crafted by someone who cared. You find a person who made that bear or toy with a dream of a smiling child and a best friend for life. You then think really hard about who you are buying the present for. You research them, you TALK TO THEM, and you do that until you know that this presents is truly something that would add value to their life. ONLY THEN do you buy it for them, and give it to them with all the love that you have for them in your heart.
Perhaps this will result in less presents. Items made with love are more expensive, after all. But would that really be a bad thing? What would it be like, to live in a household where each item was valued, and where each item was crafted and given with love?
Talk about some seriously amazing feng shui.
That is my grown up Christmas list. Donations for the ACLU, and gifts given with love.
For some more tips on buying quality toys for your children, visit this post by the Crunchy Domestic Goddess. And if you do have some unloved toys, consider dropping them off to a Goodwill, or a Second Chance Toys drop spot.
This week in updates: The Holiday Bustle
So, my TODO list is a mile long. So much for a break before the holidays! Between food prepping for this week and the week I get home, fixing my bicycle, crafting some presents, a little social time, and all my normal work outs, there isn’t much time left. The holiday bustle is officially here! That’s okay. I love cooking. I love wrapping presents. I also just got a vegan bodybuilding book which I am terribly excited about. My diet has been going well, and my body is starting to change from the long-distance runner I was to the muscle girl I want to be. These arms are looking pretty good, wouldn’t you say? Also, making vegan gingerbread houses is hard. I think next year I am going to measure my gingerbread a little better, AND use peanut butter instead of vegan frosting. But, I did learn that my friends are super crafty and good at making meaningful presents too! At our white elephant, we had a homemade coast guard coaster, an amazing painting on cork board, and (of course) some really well made and designed gingerbread house making kits.
This is the P3bgirl signing off for the holidays. Enjoy your friends and family everyone!
The Recipe: Miso Black Beans and Spring Onions
Truly an easy recipe with a great flavor! Since as vegans we eat so many legumes, I am always looking for new and novel ways to prepare them. This miso was left over from the carrot miso soup, and a few batches of homemade ramen. I threw it in some fresh, garlic black beans and magic happened! The miso not only adds flavor, but makes these beans smooth and creamy too.
- Black beans
- Miso paste
- Garlic clove
- Spring Onions
- Cook your black beans with a garlic clove or too.
- Mix in miso paste to taste. I like using two tablespoons.
- Top with chopped spring onions.