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christmas-ornaments-2.jpgThere is a battle for my soul this holiday season. For years, I have envisioned my children running down from their rooms on Christmas day to an enormous tree and diving into a pile of gifts with unbridled euphoria. I always glaze over the part when 24 minutes later, disappointment in their youthful eyes and colorful, torn paper at their feet, they gasp, “Is that all there is?” Yup, now 18 more hours to kill til Xmas is finito.

There are a few hiccups with my idealized scenario. First of all, my daughters are Jewish. But long before my husband and I said, “I do,” we hammered out a holiday compromise in a very intense interfaith class. We practically had to hire an attorney to work out a settlement but we got it done. We decided to honor both Hanukkah and Christmas with all their cultural traditions. No Harry the Hanukkah bush. No 8 days of Christmas. Both holidays are celebrated independently and completely. So that means 3 year-old Dylan and nearly 1 year-old Summer would be riding the Santa Menorah gravy train.

But Al Gore has ruined it all. Damn, that formerly hunky vp. I have deep green guilt. I am bothered by the commercialism of the holidays. All the toys we don’t really need. All the wrapping paper that will be tossed into landfills. All the junk that you’ll receive and immediately want to purge. I desperately want only to buy earth friendly, wooden toys for my girls but I know Dylan would just fly to the stars for that plastic, piece of crap Elmo Sing-with-me Karaoke machine. I think the moment you buy one, the temperature of the earth goes up one degree. I’m overheating just thinking about it all.

So what is a Christmas lovin’, Jew marrying, eco-girl wanna be like myself supposed to do? Well for one, definitely no wrapping paper. Santa has switched to newspaper. Rudolph, who has always been the most earth conscious of the reindeer bunch, actually suggested it. When we have the choice, we will buy earth friendly products. We’ll indulge in a little plastic only when it makes our children’s hearts expand with recycled joy.

Mommy Poppins, another eco-mama, suggested buying gifts that create togetherness like tickets to an event or an offer to do something special together. Dylan has been begging me to take her to the merry-go-around in Central Park so I like that idea. Would I have to purchase a carbon offset? Maybe I’ll get one in my stocking.

mama bird notes

Contributing mama Daphne Biener admits when she’s been outsmarted by her 4 year-old. Click on “contributing mamas” to read more.

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9 Responses to the santa devil vs. the green angel

  • Nona says:

    I, too, have this internal struggle with Christmas! I'm still trying to figure out my strategy… I like the newspaper wrapping and the together-ness gifts! Great ideas!

  • Kimberly says:

    glad you have this conflict b/c i struggle over being the "good fun aunt" and a good sister in law…. i think i might go w/fun presents wrapped in newspaper.. everyone wins (kind of:))

  • Susan says:

    We also celebrate both Holidays and my children love the benefits of two holidays, but it's much easier when they are in the same week. I like the newspaper idea.

  • franny says:

    My son always preferred the giant cardboard (recycle-able) box to the contents!! His 1st or 2nd grade class had the kids give their dad a redeemable coupon book for fatehrs day. It was made of construction paper into a little stapled together book of coupons that said things like "clean up my toys", "one giant hug" etc. Your girls are kinda young for this, but keep it in mind. It was really cute! My kids got lots of books when I wanted to resist the urge to over indulge.

  • Robin Singer says:

    How about we rename it "The Green Santa?" Another wrapping idea is to use fabric that can be reused on the next gift. It can be oversized and tied up with a ribbon – it doesn't have to be cut exactly to fit, and doesn't really need to be taped, which makes it easier to reuse on future gifts, or crafts. We're a Chanukah/Christmas family too. Boy these kids get to just keep on celebrating! But when trying to justify leaving those plastic toys on the shelf, remember, it's the plastic that gets recalled for toxicity. Environmentally friendly toys tend to be friendlier for the body too. 🙂

  • izzy's mama says:

    I am green with envy that you have ironed out a concrete plan for sharing the holidays. Our Hanukkah/Christmas struggle continues. Aside from more important holiday hopes and dreams, I long to keep the plastic dreck out of my house..How to tell the relatives??? Will try for a subtle blog approach!

  • beth says:

    Treehugger (treehugger.com) did a whole thing on this and it was pretty smart. It was about using fabric bags that can be reused. It was about making gifts (not on behalf of wee ones) to non profits that promote sustainability, like heifer.org, worldwatch, etc. There was that great NYT Style section piece this week … but I don't think you have to be a grinch to be green. In our house, kids only get real gifts on the first and last nights of Chanukah — a total of 2 real gifts. Then, we do fun things like Menorah Cookies, or a neat straw, or a dreidel (okay that's crap), etc. I don't think we're scroogey, I just don't think kids need that much and that then they really appreciate what they get. And lastly, elfster.com had a great thing today — regifting. It's actually a green way to go!

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kelcey kintner