Make Giving Count

The Christmas season is fast approaching and people who celebrate the holidays are trying to find ways to make it meaningful when so much is different. We are a resilient lot though, and it’s wonderful to see how people are finding creative ways to make it work.

Rather than focusing on what we can’t do, many are finding things they can do. Video calls with family are replacing large gatherings. Intimate phone calls with friends in place of parties. Connecting with neighbours from a safe distance.

I recently discovered other ways to make Christmas more meaningful this year. In fact, it is making this season one of the most heartfelt in years simply by making giving count.

I have shopped at Amazon in the past and still do for things that I truly can’t get anywhere else. The difference this year is that I am doing whatever I can to shop locally – preferably at mom and pop shops – before even looking at big retailers. I am also finding creative ways to support charities and causes that I am passionate about.

It takes a bit more effort. But wow, is it worth it!

For one thing, you can find truly unique gifts when you look in smaller stores and seek out local artists or entrepreneurs. Many gifts are handmade, high quality and at reasonable prices.

When you buy something from a small business, you see the heartfelt gratitude in their eyes and hear it in their voices. You can feel good knowing your purchase will help them stay open during unstable times. There is no better feeling of community.

Yes, you may have to pay a few dollars more to shop local (they just don’t have the huge customer base to set lower prices) but it shows you truly care about the people and businesses in your community. That says something. Remember, those same small businesses also support your local economy including donating to your kid’s sports teams, charity silent auctions, etc.

This season, you may also want to consider giving to a local charity as a gift for the hard to buy for person. Local food banks are truly hurting this year and need our support as do so many other charities. And if you have a cause, movement or activity that you are passionate about, find ways to support them at Christmas too.

If you read my posts, you will know that my passions are being eco-friendly and the Truth and Reconciliation movement in Canada. I consider both in my gift giving.

By buying gifts locally I am reducing packaging and travel emissions and, therefore, reducing my buying footprint.

I want to support local Indigenous crafts people and was delighted to find a wood turning artist from Ta’an Kwach’an First Nations (Yukon) living in my city! I found the perfect gift in my price range and now have a new connection and business that I will continue to support.

Charity wise, this year myself and a group of other women went together to purchase gifts for over 20 Indigenous girls (ages 10 to 18) who attend a non-profit organization for girls living in poverty and/or other challenging circumstances. In addition, I will support the local adopt-a-family and toy donations in my city.

Giving a gift that matters is so simple and can truly make a difference this holiday season and all year through. I hope I have inspired you to give it a go. If you do, I would love to hear your story!

Be Curious

I love to travel. Meeting new people, learning about their culture, eating local dishes, appreciating their music and art as well as learning a few words in their language are all part of the experience. It’s so interesting to understand how each and every culture contributes to the world.

My curiosity for learning about other cultures has been directed toward my own country the last couple of years. I have come to appreciate the incredible number of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples in Canada. Each community is unique in their name, language, history and culture. Each contributes to our country in different ways.

For example, do you know the amazing things the Inuit and First Nations peoples are doing for environmental sciences? Do you know about the First Nations political system which uses a circle model rather than a hierarchy model? Did you know that in many instances they’ve had much greater success when implementing their own framework for policing and rehabilitation compared to the current punishment/jail system?

Have you explored the diversity of music, art and languages that exist across our country? Have you read any books from the incredibly talented Indigenous authors? Have you taken the time to discuss philosophy or spirituality with an Indigenous person, learning about their beliefs, values and creation stories? Do you know how effective their herbal medicine and natural healing are? Have you read history from their perspective – their interesting and amazing trade routes and economic systems across North America prior to contact with Europeans?

If any of this surprises you, I encourage you to be more curious! Talk to Indigenous people in your area. Ask questions. Find out for yourself.

Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Today I honor and give gratitude to the many Indigenous Peoples in our country and to those all over the world for their amazing contributions.

Thank you.

Visiting the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec in 2019
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