I'm Dreaming Of A Green Christmas

My Twitter pal DeepakChopra (we once sat next to each other on a cross-country flight) was recently asked, "What is the meaning of Christmas?"

His lovely answer: "A return to innocence as the Holy Child in all of us."

Beautiful. And yet, during this season that's supposed to be joyous, I encounter way too many people with a serious case of the crankies, bemoaning the traffic jams they face as well as the long lines at the mall. Count me among them. In year's past, I've strayed well beyond the path and lost sight of the holiday spirit as it was intended.

Not this year. I thought long and hard about how I could simplify my holiday "To Do" list and create a wondrous, twinkley season sans the commercialized packaging.

Give Green Gifts

Plant a fruit tree for a healthier planet. The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) plants orchards at places such as public schools, city parks, low-income neighborhoods, Native American reservations, international hunger relief sites, and animal sanctuaries. FTPF has lovely certificates and organic apple tree grow kits that make wonderful gifts for friends and family.

✵ Giving a Gift of Fairness and Fair Trade from TransFair changes the world by changing the opportunities for farming families and the environment around the world. Starting at just $20, you can give pesticides a pink slip or a honey bee a hive. Cute!

✵ Seva (say-va) is a Sanskrit word for service. Seva Foundation was formed by Ram Dass in 1978 with a mission to alleviate suffering caused by disease and poverty. Giving a Gift of Service is a lovely way to honor friends, family and colleagues. I love these two in particular: sponsor a cataract operation and restore sight to a blind person, or provide seeds for a one-acre community garden on a Native American reservation.

✵ Provide a safe haven for tropical wildlife and slow global warming when you plant a rainforest tree in honor of a friend or family member. For each $10 you give, the National Resources Defense Council will plant a sapling in a newly rejuvenated rainforest in Costa Rica.

✵ The lovely Sarma Melngailis is running a very generous promotion until midnight, December 20th. Hurry! Purchase a One Lucky Duck Gift Card online, and you'll receive one for FREE. The bigger your gift card amount, the more your free gift is worth. The best part? Gift cards can be used toward raw goodies at the online store, at both One Lucky Duck locations (Gramercy and Chelsea Market), and at Pure Food and Wine for dinner. Gift cards can be redeemed anytime, with no expiration date.

✵ Email a personalized Amazon Gift Card that can be redeemed for a b'zillion items online, no joke. No fees and no expiration either.

✵ Check out Tree Hugger's Green Gift Guide. You'll find even more creative eco-friendly ideas for the foodies, techies or fashionistas in your life.

✵ Another alternative for a green gift is to trade favors rather than purchasing store-bought gifts. Make a nice gift card and offer a night of babysitting, a home-cooked meal, or some gardening help come spring.

How are you simplifying and greening your holiday this year?

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