Every year my extended family does a Kris Kringle for everyone over the age of 18. (For international readers who don't know what this is--you pick a name out of a hat and give only that person a gift, instead of everyone.) Kids still get gifts from everybody. Now, my Mom is the oldest of 6 kids and my family, when you count aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, cousin's kids, we have over 50 people. So just imagine all the gifts that were passed around before we started the Kris Kringle thing. Entire forests perished just to make the wrapping paper.
This year, inspired by this article (I had a writing class with the guy pictured on the right), I suggested that we give each other Heifer International gifts. They're an organization that gives animals to desperately poor people in other countries so they can make a living.
I've been giving Heifer gifts to my immediate family this year because they're so hard to shop for. Pretty things just have to be dusted. Food gifts may or may not get eaten (except for fruit baskets, but I can't send one for every occasion). But the gifts I've given from Heifer or Oxfam Unwrapped have gone over well.
For example, I gave mom a bee hive for her birthday and some family in South America got a bee hive so they can support themselves by selling honey. And His Awesomeness got to make jokes about Mom opening a box of bees as they flew out and stung her. And Mom didn't have to dust her present.
And there was much rejoicing.
So I emailed the family, letting everyone know that I didn't want to kill Christmas and wasn't trying to guilt anyone out of a gift. So far, some of us are on board with the idea, so we're a go. The way we're doing it is to let the Aunt In Charge know whether we want a gift or a Heifer. Then we'll pick names like usual and everyone who picks a Heifer recipient just gives Aunt In Charge $25 (our usual limit) and she'll buy a Cow or Water Buffalo as funds allow.
So I'm mentioning this in case you have a family or office Kris Kringle coming up and maybe you want to make the same suggestion. Not only is it better for whoever gets the Heifer animals, but it's good for the environment because it means less consumption. Remember, when you buy a cheap, plastic thingie for your co-worker to put on their desk just because you'd all agreed to exchange gifts, that thingie was made in Asia, probably by someone in a sweatshop, and then shipped halfway around the world, using lots of fuel and labor. Just to get a thingie on someone's desk that they may not even like.
If you go this route, let me know how it goes.
Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win.