Last year around this time I wrote about making handmade gifts for the holidays (and even shared my recipe for Herbed Sea Salt), with the idea of saving money and getting back into the spirit of gift-giving. Little did I know that a year later, the idea of simplifying Christmas (both financially and spiritually) would be resonate even more strongly.
I’ve mentioned before my family tradition of sharing what we’re thankful for before we begin eating our Thanksgiving feast.
While this year has been a challenging one for so many people I know (and certainly my family hasn’t been immune to this) I think that there is still plenty for us to be thankful for, particularly when it comes to food and our food sources. This year, I’m looking more broadly than my little family. Here’s what I think we all can be thankful for:
In our house, as in many, we have a Thanksgiving tradition where we go around the table and each person shares what he or she is most thankful for. It’s a nice, introspective pause before we all dig in to an enormous feast that took days to prepare, and my only regret is that it’s something that we only do once a year.
This year, for the first time in many years, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with my mom. It’s the favorite for both my mom and myself, so you can imagine we’re pretty jazzed about it. In fact, we’re already working on planning our menu and figuring out the timeline.
One of the suggestions I always hear for maintaining a healthy diet is to eat a wide range of foods. Some experts even advocate eating a “rainbow” of food, the theory being that the range of pigments that make these foods so colorful are also what give them a variety of vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients.
Whatever did we do before the Internet? As a writer, it’s obviously the first place I turn to start working on an article. And as a consumer, I rarely make an important purchase decision without doing a little research on the company, what others think of the product, and where I can buy it for the best price.
This weekend we made our annual pilgrimage to the country to visit an apple house and a pumpkin patch. Our car was a good 40 pounds heavier on the way home, loaded down with an enormous bag of apples and a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins and squash. Ordinarily, I’d feel overwhelmed with having such a bounty in my kitchen (it’s always a challenge just to use up all of my Community Supported Agriculture share for the week before it goes bad), but the beauty of many fall vegetables is that they last for awhile — Mother Nature’s way of helping us stretch that last harvest through the cold winter months, I suppose.
There’s something satisfying about filling up the recycling bin with soup cans, milk cartons, wads of aluminum foil and other materials that would otherwise take up space in our landfills. I feel particularly virtuous on the days when our recycling bin is fuller than our garbage bin.
A recent package in the mail from my mom included two jars of amber-colored peach preserves from a batch that she’d canned in the late summer. I’m a huge fan of jams and jellies, but I had never tasted anything as flavorful and delicious as those peach preserves. My daughter and I went through one jar in about two days, spooning it onto toast, vanilla yogurt, and even just eating it right out of the jar.
I am ashamed to admit that buying bottles of water once or twice a week had become a habit of mine. After all, I get thirsty when I’m out and about, and the SIGG bottle that an eco-conscious friend gave me a few years ago was starting to get funky.