Four Ways To Make It A More Meaningful Christmas This Year


Forget the debate currently raging on the Web on how you should ‘deliver’ your Christmas greetings. Should you just wish a ‘Merry Christmas’ or should it be ‘Happy Holidays’ for those hailing from different cultures and religions? Of course, it all depends on your personal preference, but one thing is for sure. This is one season for unconditional giving and the best gift could be nothing less than what is most precious to you. For years now, The Gift of the Magi (yes, we are talking about the O. Henry classic) has been referred to as the ideal behind gift-giving. But we have decided to explore things in today’s context and come up with four things you can do to make it a really meaningful Christmas for all, all over the world. Before you start reading, a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Food is for all; sharing kicks off the party.
Most of us laugh when crash dieters complain of starving – because they always have easy access to food and the denial is their own creation. Yet, the recently passed National Food Security Act in India reminds us of a stark reality. Take care of food waste on any occasion or any party day – so that no one has to go hungry anywhere in the world.

According to a FAO report, one-third of all the food we produce goes waste, costing the world economy about $750 billion, while 870 million people go hungry every day. In Asia and south Asia, around 125 kg of food is wasted per person and the wastage amounts to 15 kg per head at the consumer’s end, says Kehinnde Taiwo, a food scientist from Nigeria. “Food ends up in rubbish dumps for a variety of reasons. People buy food on impulse, purchase items which are near expiry dates, cook more than what they can eat or buy food that never gets eaten,” he explains. So the next time you have more food on the table than you can eat, store it for the next meal or better still, share it with someone who is hungry. That’s the time when the party begins.

Loaded with gifts? Re-gift more, others may have greater needs.
Don’t be a Christmas hoarder. You may have received loads of gifts, but do you need all of them? Chances are you already have them or you really don’t have much use for them. In such a case, it is always best to talk to the person who has brought in the gift and find a way to re-gift it to someone who really needs it. A friend once received a number of stylish travel bags (they were the rage of that season) and decided to give them all to a kids’ home nearby who found it handy and useful. She also sent out personalised thank-you notes to people who had sent her the gifts, telling them how great those were and how the kids loved them. Most of them were happy to hear it and the spirit of giving and goodwill thrived.

Go green with lights, gift wrappers; energy & environment are precious.
A couple of days before the Christmas, a distress call from some long-distance friends told us how people were coping without electricity while the mercury had dipped below zero. Take note of that as energy is a precious gift, needed to sustain Life on earth. There are plenty of ways to save on energy (and your electricity bill, which means more savings and more doings this Christmas). Use power-savers as much as possible – stunning LED lights instead of conventional lamps speak volumes about your taste and awareness. Turn off holiday lights when they are not in use; use strings of other decorative items, instead of lights, and keep a tab on your gadget use this Christmas.

The other material we tend to use most is paper – right from greeting cards to paper boxes to wrapping paper. Last year, an estimated 227,000 miles of wrapping paper was wasted in the UK alone (India data not available yet). But a start-up there seems to have the answer to the problem of paper waste at Christmas time, according to media reports. The UK company says its biodegradable wrapping paper implanted with vegetable seeds (it is called seed paper) is an environmentally responsible alternative that continues to give even when Christmas is over. Well, unless that is available here in India, let us try and use recycled wrapping paper and re-usable containers/boxes as much as possible. Send electronic greeting cards instead of paper ones and preserve the gift wraps for next year’s use, if you can.

Do a little something extra for someone – spread the cheer.
Make or get a special gift for someone who doesn’t belong to your social or professional circle. In other words, do something special, to make it a special day. Every Christmas, a colleague visits a specialty hospital for the aged and makes a generous donation for those requiring critical care. Asked what induced her to do so, she recalled the time when she badly needed the money to start a specific treatment and a stranger donated it to help her. Giving back what we get from others is not only a social responsibility; it is also one of the core values this season teaches us. As Mary Ellen Chase so rightly said, “Christmas… is not a date. It is a state of mind.”

Image: Indiatimes
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