Being raised as a free-thinker, my family has celebrated Christmas to celebrate the gift of giving. These days it has become a very commercialized festival. However, there are ways to keep your own celebrations mindful with a focus on an abundance of creativity, love and kindness that lasts long after the tangible presents have been unwrapped, left somewhere and possibly forgotten.
How to stick by your less/no meat stance
If you are planning to reduce your meat intake or leave it out altogether this festive season, it is important to be confident in your decision to do so. For years, I just allowed my mother to keep putting meat on my plate because as much as she knew that it would annoy me, she knew I would let her do it. One day, I said I had enough, and I meant it. But I also had to show her that I knew what I was doing. Confidence is key. If your loved ones poke fun at your newfound decision, or even try the well-worn “But it’s just one piece!” line, it will help to explain yourself. Share with them what your goals and intentions are, and that you are serious about it. You don’t need to show anger, defensiveness or a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, just something that comes across as positive and assertive. If you put yourself in charge of what you eat, chances are that the people around you will respect that.
What to Cook
There are loads of festive goodies that can be made without meat!
As a suggestions for starters, my crowd-pleasing Quinoa Mango Salad (recipe HERE
If an oven is available, you could whip together a tasty nut loaf (recipe HERE,
now with a Youtube video
!), densely packed with nuts and fresh mushrooms.
For dessert, how about a scoop of dairy-free ice cream (recipe HERE
) over freshly-baked guava crumble (recipe HERE
As a treat for the kids, I don’t have a recipe for gingerbread men… but my favourite food blogs The Minimalist Baker has one
, and it’s gluten-free!
Of course, sharing is caring. Introducing others to the delicious meatless alternatives that you’re enjoying will further allow people to understand and support your plant-based stance, and maybe even be curious to try out the recipes for themselves, which would be your cue to shamelessly plug this website on my behalf.
How to Wrap
A lot of the time, half of the time spent in preparing presents is looking for the perfect Christmas wrapping paper. Many believe it’s worth it… But in a world that is turning into a planet of trash
, it’s time to re-think our gift-giving strategies.
For as long as I can recall, my older sister has been a stickler for unwrapping presents as delicately as possible – wincing when the cellotape tears the paper! – so that she can save the wrapping for another year. And she does, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. She also keeps presentable boxes that came as packaging for other things, and reuses them too, most of the time to impressive effect.
Over the past few years, I have also enjoyed wrapping presents in either:
– Colourful newspaper and magazine pages, which I would already have a stack of at home ready for recycling, or
There are many other tips online
on how to make gift-wrapping an experience that is not only sustainable but adds a much-valued personal touch.
This year, I’ve tried to go one step further and not use any cellotape or glue. The two small pressies in this photo are wrapped in the pullout section of a newspaper, which had thick, nice quality paper. I was trying to follow a no-cellotape wrapping technique on Youtube and it got so complicated that I gave up halfway and just improvised. Thankfully they still look pretty decent. I must admit that an adolescence largely spent on origami came to good use!
How to Enjoy the Greatest Gifts
I’ve just turned 35, which in theory means that the 4 other people in my family have fretted over what to get me thirty five times, and I’ve also fretted over what to do with the one hundred and forty presents that my family has given me!
Thankfully, I have come to realize that I have ‘enough’. Enough material things. Enough food, shelter, health and love for me to be thankful for.
As of last year, I have requested for my family to not buy me Christmas presents. And if anyone really wants to get me anything, then perhaps a donation to a good cause, or the presentation of cash in an envelope so that I can do the donation on their behalf, would mean much more to me than an extra blouse that I would have no space for. This year, I have seen a friend of mine, singer Bihzhu
, post a earnest request on her Facebook profile for noone to get presents for her this year. Bless her.
I hope these tips will keep you mindful of the true spirit of Christmas. These are tips that you’ll also be able to carry with you all year round (birthdays happen all the time!). May you use this special time to reflect on the year that has just passed, and in turn help to form your intentions on making the next year as best that it can be.
May kindness guide you through the coming week of joy with your loved ones!