Thanks for hanging in there waiting for me to come back! I wasn’t planning on being away from Kitchen Stewardship for an entire week (yikes!), but we stayed an extra day with my husband’s family over the weekend, had time to literally unpack and re-pack, then went to my family’s a day earlier than planned. My mother, bless her heart, has dial-up, and she still manages to read my stuff loyally. I about went insane trying to check my email and write one little tweet. It’s good to be back!
I hope you who celebrate Christ’s birthday had a wonderful time with your families and found ways to keep it holy. I managed to accomplish two of my three “keep Christ in Christmas” goals from this post. We did not do a special family prayer service with Scripture, but we did complete our Jesse Tree, have a very special dinner by candlelight, and had a high quality family prayer time. That was what I could do that day.
I stayed focused at Mass on being prayerful and keeping my temper, even through two screaming fits, crayons everywhere, and one trip to the basement to take my 18-month-old, who is in diapers, to the potty. After 10 minutes of asking, she actually went. Go figure!
I have a ton I’ve been wanting to share with you. I’ve written a lot in my head the past week, so hopefully my cranial hard drive has retained at least most of it. 😉
Christmas: A Time of Good Cheer and Bad Waste
My Christmas was defined by joyful family time, watching my kids have a ball opening gifts (the act of opening for the 18-month-old and the glee in the piles of new stuff for the 4-year-old, who is now old enough to say, “Clothes? That’s just what I didn’t want!”), and, unfortunately, the wounded distress call my green side sends out when I witness the waste of a family gathering.
Those gifts my children opened, in spite of my continued wish list plea of “more wood, less plastic” and “Fewer batteries and buttons, more kid-driven thinking toys,” were populated mostly by plastic, batteries and buttons. And when my mom tries to stick with my list, her gifts pale in comparison to the lighted, jumping, singing toys from the in-laws. It’s a tough balance. What to do?
Simple Living 101
We’re going to learn a lesson in simplicity the next few months as we “set” our house to try to sell it. We’re paring down the toys considerably, and even Mommy has to get rid of many of her kitchen gadgets temporarily so our cute little house looks more cute and less little. I’m kind of excited to teach the children to take better care of their toys when they only have ONE box of crayons each, and to see how much easier the cleaning up part of our day is with so much less stuff.
I’m both petrified and eager to find out if we like having less stuff. That would mean we should get rid of a bunch of things, which is difficult and painful for a pack rat like me. “But what if we need it later?” is a classic Kimball mantra.
I’m going to have to be careful not to throw my eco-consciousness out the window and create more waste in trying to get rid of things than I have saved in my meticulous recycling and saving/reusing over the past many years. It’s tempting to be eco-forgetful when tackling the big projects, like cleaning out the junk room…or opening Christmas presents.
Christmas Waste: How Green is Katie?
Although it’s a lot easier to just trash everything equally, I am green enough that I picked through three garbage bags of wrappings, and sorted out two bags of wrapping paper (that I’m not positive we can recycle), one bag of tissue, newspaper, and cardboard (that I know we can recycle) and two grocery bags of plastic, including a good portion of my in-laws’ plastic storage container cupboard. I gave them glass dishes with the condition that she let me take at least an equal number of plastic, microwave-pock-marked plastic dishes and recycle them. Yes, I am that green. 😉
I didn’t grab the plastic plates from breakfast and try to rinse and reuse or recycle them, though. Sometimes family harmony is more important than landfills overflowing, so I just swallow, cringe inwardly, and turn a blind eye. (But I snuck real plates out for my family the second morning at breakfast! I’m such a rebel!) I don’t even want to know what happened to any extra baked potatoes from dinner…
Weird Gifts I Got for Christmas
First, a laugh for you. What would you do if you opened a gift from your mother-in-law and saw this:
I didn’t want to offend her in case there was something behind the gift other than what I could see, so I grinned sheepishly and looked around, stammering, “Is there something I’m missing…–Is there a story behind this?”
My mother-in-law answered, “Well, you seem to make all your cleaners, so I can’t get you soap, and I hear you even make your own deodorant, [a classic stocking stuffer at their house, where Santa continues to come and fill them for everyone age 1-70] so I didn’t really know what to get you, other than an ingredient.”
This is why I dearly love my mother-in-law, in spite of our philosophical differences on material things/material waste. She does her ultimate best to give people gifts they will appreciate. Who else would receive white vinegar for Christmas and be happy about it? Yep, I’m pretty weird.
I also still received Bath and Body Works antibacterial soap and sanitizer in my stocking (so you can tell MIL doesn’t read Kitchen Stewardship, right?). I used to just use the stuff when I received it as a gift, figuring if I gave it away, it was going in the water system anyway, so I might as well just use it up. But I used to get quite a bit of Bath and Body Works soap. Last Christmas, I made a commitment to never use it again, no matter what. I like to be a bit of a rebel, and that kind of thing keeps me honest and makes me happy.
I took back last year’s loot, and I’m going to have to do the same this year. If you received antibacterial soap, I’d encourage you to do the same. Bath and Body Works, thankfully, sells the Cleanwell line of natural antibacterial soaps now. That’s about the only thing in the store I could make use of, since the shampoos and lotions all have synthetic fragrances and parabens and funky ingredients. Cleanwell is more expensive than the BBW brand soap, so I’m glad I got a few items that I can trade in for one Cleanwell! I don’t really want to give Bath and Body Works my own money, as we don’t have a very good working relationship. 😉
What did you get for Christmas to help you be greener, healthier, or more prayerful? Do share! Anything you need to bring back? Opinions on rechargeable batteries? (Are they worth it?)
Coming Soon…3 Ways to Avoid Throwing away your Christmas cards and free toy storage for all those new thingys with lots of pieces.
…And a Monday Mission – on Friday!
Be sure to get in the Skoy Cloth Giveaway before Monday at midnight – these little gems are a unique find and worth an entry!
Do you know what’s coming at KS in 2010? Lots of neat series, some new recipes, and updates from Sally Fallon on soaking grains. Read it all here.