Up to your eyeballs hunting for that eternally illusory “perfect” gift? Can’t find sugar for your seasonal shortbread? Fed up with recycling all those Amazon cartons? Stop. Relax. Take a breath and de-stress with this wonderful holiday concept: “Enough is best.”
You couldn’t ask for a better mantra for the holiday season, and it’s from one of my favourite “action” heroes—environmental economist, Herman Daly. Sadly, just when we needed him most, Daly died last year after decades of pushing for a more practical, balanced way of conducting ourselves on this fair planet.
Of course, when he used “enough is best,” Daly was talking about his economic model that flies in the face of endless growth. But it also feels perfect for this time of year, working its magic in all kinds of ways, including my pet project—getting us all, or at least a fair bunch of us, to give gifts that disappear.
You know, thoughtful gifts that spell l-o-v-e but cost you, and the planet, very little, and don’t end up in the landfill or on the eternal re-gifting circuit. Like making a homemade card telling a neighbour who needs it that you’ll clear their walks this winter. Or taking the time to phone a lonely soul. After all, texting only goes so far and we all know someone who would brighten from a friendly call—maybe even you!
Bake up some of those favourite family recipes, provided you do find some sugar. But maybe you’re not so handy in the kitchen, so share a story for free. (See the lovely Whistler library suggestion, below, along with more fresh ways to give).
Or maybe you’d rather extend your reach in other ways that are thoughtful, and kind, and support something your giftee believes in. The need is enormous now, especially in the face of all the crises we face, in Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan; in our climate and natural world.
Close to home, consider a membership to the very good Whistler Naturalists, or one of my all-time favourites, the equally good Arts Whistler. Donations to WAG, Whistler's animal shelter are great for the dog lovers on your list. They offer beautiful certificates in the name of your recipient.
The ways to give are endless. And they needn’t be large. If everyone who reads this gives one simple dollar to a good cause in the name of someone you love, that may well be enough. And best.
On that heart-y note, here are more fresh ideas from around the Sea to Sky that can brighten spirits and lessen your holiday load.
GREAT GIFT IDEAS WRAPPED UP IN ONE LIBRARY
If you have book lovers on your gift list, and love a small footprint, here’s a great idea, courtesy of an innovative elf at the Whistler Public Library. Go to your favourite library, and take out a book on your card. Then wrap the book and “give” it to your giftee. Just make sure they realize it has to be returned to the library. You can also renew it for them as needed. Presto. A book your giftee will enjoy, while turning them onto your local library and the shared economy at the same time. This has been a tradition in Scandinavia for ages. Bonus—you might even find a gift-wrapping station at your local library. Another free and easy concept: Borrow a special book that you read with family or friends every Christmas Eve.
Of course, like so many Sea to Sky institutions, you can always make a cash donation in your loved one's name. Just go to the Whistler Public Library's website and click on the heart at the top of the page.
Throughout December, you can also drop off much-needed donations to the Whistler Food Bank at the library or Meadow Park Sports Centre for a chance to win a one-month pass to the sports centre. Visits to the food bank are up five-fold since before the pandemic. Young people, old people, single dads, single moms, families, new Canadians—the need is off the charts, as are prices for food and rent. Pemberton opened its own food bank last fall, while Squamish has had one for years.
But if you have to buy a book for someone this holiday season, make it BReD: The Cookbook by Ed and Natasha Tatton of the eternally popular and award-winning vegan bakery BReD at Whistler Creekside. All good. All sustainable. You might not ever get enough.
A GEM OF AN IDEA
Pearls are beautiful, and PearlSpace in Squamish is no exception. Formerly known as Howe Sound Women's Centre Society, PearlSpace has a broad reach across the Sea to Sky, including Whistler, providing support services and shelter for anyone who's faced gender-based violence. You can shorten your gift list and support their many good initiatives by giving in a number of ways. Like filling a hamper for a family in need in the name of your loved one. Contact PearlSpace online or at 604-892-5748, and they'll provide you with the details of a recipient family you get to shop for. (The PearlSpace crisis line is 1-877-890-5711.)
You can also a "fill a bag" for someone in need in the name of your giftee. And much like Whistler's Re-Use-It Centre, which supports the Whistler Community Services Society, their Pearl's Value & Vintage Store on Cleveland Avenue in Squamish welcomes gently used household goods and clothing, including those wayward gifts most of us manage to receive every now and then. Even those can eventually find a good home.
But now it’s time for a toast.
To everyone—clink!—having enough to eat, and enough to drink, thank you very much. As for those of us lucky enough to indulge (over-indulge?) ourselves over the holidays, remember… having just enough, and not too much, really is best.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who’s been very lucky to have enough all her long life. n