by Linda Hunter –
For many who celebrate the holidays, it is a beautiful and joyful time of year. For others, it may instead be filled with stress and overwhelm along with the added challenge of gift giving. A time meant to be full of the festive spirit, it can at times be filled with dread: navigating relationships, finding extra funds and participating in the excess and consumerism that is often part and parcel of the season.
For our family, this time of year is mostly about experiences and each other. We choose to forgo presents for presence, and our focus is on sharing meals and moments, crafting memories that are more easily held in your heart than in your hand.
Part of simple living is simple giving and for our clan, this has not only meant a more meaning-filled Christmas, but also a more relaxing and beautiful season, one with fewer expectations and much more celebration. And while many might argue that giving is better than receiving, this year we are especially grateful to receive some of the gifts that we so often take for granted: those that are offered up freely in nature, gifts that last and won’t need to be exchanged or returned.
This December, we will all spend some time off from working, on the Island’s west coast, in Shirley. Rather than chop down a tree or purchase one that has been specifically grown for the season, we will instead enjoy the abundant living forest that surrounds us while adorning a few of our favourite trees with battery-operated LED lights. Our solar panels will continue to gift us with enough of the sun’s energy to charge our batteries and provide the necessary power for any electrical needs. Our composting toilet will work hard over the holidays, taking care of business as usual. Our new hand wash pump station (thanks to YouTube) will provide washed hands and cool drinks, allowing for early morning teeth brushing and early evening dish washing, while our greywater will be used to put out our post dinner campfires. While enjoying time off along with these off grid gifts, we’ll begin to design a rain harvesting system that will gratefully accept that abundant West Coast winter rain offering, ready to use in spring planting when a new season finally peeks through the trees.
While enjoying a connection to the land and an offline connection to each other (no working cell phones), our goal this Christmas will be to appreciate what we already have without purchasing more, to take only what we need when we likely already have enough, and to share what is so readily available and so freely given in the natural world: fresh sea air, sensational sunshine, cool crisp water, abundant trees and trails, spectacular wildlife, and some sensational Shirley sunsets. Our aim will be to return home after the holidays, with not much more than what we went with, except for bringing back our newly made shared memories; all the while knowing that the gifts we did leave behind will continue to give even when we are no longer present.
You can continue to follow Linda’s journey along with her family at www.lovinglargelivingsmall.ca , starting in the New Year.