By Chris Wagner

While I was working on a couple of other essays, it occurred to me that it might be a better idea to address the season and why it seems important to see it with fresh eyes. Then the Giving Guide came in the mail and everything fell into place. Reading the non-profit mission statements and knowing how strongly this community supports these services and activities, I was filled again with joy at having landed here and it reminded me that we are all in this together and that we will not leave anyone behind.
So, one way to celebrate is to donate to a cause that stirs your soul. But it seems to me that the holiday season was never meant to be so focused on consumerism. First came TV and the Saturday morning programming aimed at children accompanied by loads of toy ads and holiday decorations out earlier each year. For me it all came to a head with the Cabbage Patch doll phenomenon. Parents were fighting each other in stores because their kids had to have the doll. What did these children learn from this? And, it’s only gotten worse. When people who were lined up at a Walmart in the early hours on the morning of Black Friday a few years ago trampled a guy to death in order to get a bargain. Doesn’t seem like peace to me.
Long ago I decided to give gifts that were tied more to effort and less to money. When I found myself spending too much energy trying to find more unique gifts with money I didn’t really have, it was time to look at the whole thing differently. It not only eased my stress, but was creative and appreciated. Sometimes I gave gift certificates for housecleaning or child care. At other times I wrote poems. This was much more from my heart and also more personal. What I suspect most kids would love is the gift of time with family. Time to hear and be heard. Time unhooked from gizmos. Time for fun.
Also, the end of the year is a great time to start a new ritual by releasing what isn’t working anymore. Then we can replace these things with new goals and plans. I used to gather people at the beginning of the year to make collages of what we wanted to draw into our lives. All you need are some old magazines, cardboard and glue sticks. Enjoy!
And…you can always volunteer some time at one of our county’s non-profits and take children along. There are most certainly people out there who would love to have kid energy around them.