Witches Are Different; Our Gifts Are Too
Oh, Yule. I love you and then don’t love you. I’ve been trying to get this post out since well before western thanksgiving. Clearly it’s been a struggle. And gift giving is, whether we realize it or not, also about how the act of giving makes the giver feel. I want to feel good about what I an giving, for sure, but I also want to make sure that it’s squee-inducing and sustainable. I know, I don’t want much.
This year the preparation for celebrating the Winter Solstice is finding me feeling very grinchy. I have a book to write and a lot of my creative power goes to that project, so thinking of gift ideas or holiday plans feels overwhelming. These feelings may very well be due to the world being like….well, our world. If you are feeling the same, I’m here to say you’re not alone.
This time of year it’s easy to feel this way, which could easily lead to stressing out or hurting people’s feelings. And feelings might be hurt not because you didn’t give a gift, but rather because there was no care in the thought of the gift. This is my 57th Yule, I can tell you receiving last-minute gifts from someone comes with the same energy. You’re better off giving a hug and telling the person the truth, then basically giving whatever.
These Bah-Humbug feelings can dip down into our thoughts about how to give gifts with our kindred, a Yule tradition for centuries. My Germanic/Norse ancestors started sharing their bounty with their kindred and community long before the word Christmas was uttered. Gifts were mostly consumables like food or drink, hand-made tokens of affection (think hand-carved into hair comb, or a fur collar for hunting in the snow) or simply spending time together. All good tried-and-true choices. I never dislike receiving a bottle of wine, or chocolate, or anything hand-crafted.
But I don’t have a lot of time or energy this year, plus resources are tight. So now what?
Bounty was the word that kept being whispered to me and which pinballed around in my brain every time I sat down to write this post. What bounty could I share with my children, my family, my friends, and my community?
Outside of my larder, which will still be a source of gifts for friends and family and has been for decades, there are larger things that I think I will be looking at as “gifts” this Yuletide. I’m sharing them here to hopefully inspire you, reader, and others to help cross off your gift-giving lists.
- Change for Climate Change. I do not know anyone who calls themselves a Witch who doesn’t care for our planet and its creatures and who actively works – in a myriad of ways – for its benefit. Climate change is here. And we have to make drastic changes. It’s one of the reasons permaculture called out to me. This is my number one gift-giving idea. From giving to organizations to helping someone change a not so great consumption habit is likely number one on a Witch’s Yule wish list. Organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund, 1000 Gretas, or Climate Foundation can use all the gifts in people’s names they can get. Many organizations can let you give small amounts each month, which makes it easier to gift for those of us on a strict budget. During the gifting season a lot of organizations offer cool trinkets for the donation that you can then gift to your kindred in addition to the donation. For several years now, friends and family have received replacements for less sustainable living solutions from The Viking and I. Everything from reusable sandwich bags, bamboo towels, convenient reusable shopping bags, beeswax wrap, hemp socks, solar powered chargers, and the list goes on and on. There’s a healthier choice for just about every item we use daily out there. Go find it. Lastly, you can plan an outing with your clan to do something restorative (trash clean up, planting trees or community garden) for the environment and have a picnic or support a small local restaurant or food truck afterwards. Memories plus! However you give an offering to Mama Earth to your Witches, you’ll watch the Earth heal together.
- Civic Participation. So many of the Witches in my circle and community deeply wish for a more equitable society. Many of us use our platform to educate folx about those in need of justice and care. I think this is a huge gift. Again donations are always welcome for nonprofit organizations working to create safe spaces for LGBTQA+, women, immigrants, war refugees, and animals. Volunteering with organizations that do that is another way to gift. Those hours add up to a monetary value by the organization and as the volunteer, you can get a tax deduction. No lie. Many organizations will give a certificate of your hours, the worth of that donation, and can dedicate it to another individual. We do that now with Habitat for Humanity, since houselessness is an area that really gets my attention. Look for the local organizations (for me here in the Upper Left USA it’s the Opportunity Council) that work directly with the most vulnerable in our community. Additionally, gifting to candidates who work for the issues important to our community may also be more heartfelt to your kindred. Voting for those candidates that work for our entire community, not just the corporations would be such a great gift for one another. If you told me you voted, I consider it a gift. So, thank you.
- Growth Opportunities. When I say this, I don’t mean therapy sessions or scary bungee jumping to overcome fear – although, you do you, Witch!, but something that lets you grow together or even individually. Something that invests in your loved one personally or your relationship. My friend recently got ceramic classes for her and her mother. They are learning something together, taking time out each week to be with one another, and exploring the world together. This is what I mean. How about a gift certificate to your friend’s favorite yoga studio? Maybe you both take a meditation class together? Plan a monthly hike together. Stretch your creative muscles together in a community painting class. My local library has some great classes that provide gardening, painting, and even sailing lessons! Make a plan, stick to it, and what a gift you’ll have in both directions.
- Time Investments. Time is the most precious commodity any of us have. Perhaps gift some regular time with your loved one. A second Friday happy hour together? How about brunch at the end of the month? Go to your favorite plant store together once a month. Or walk the beach nearby twice a month looking for red sea glass. Saturday card games with good snacks are always fun and low-stress and easy on the budget. Again, flex those creativity muscles and find a way to connect regularly and with grace. What a gift!
So no need to be overwhelmed. Set yourself up with a small bit of time, some tea, your best familiar, and make a list of what truly would feel good to give and has some collective meaning to it. For me, I’m just grateful I finally got this out into the world. But you better believe, I’ll be looking at these four bigger-picture gifts for my best Witches and kindred.
Happy Yuletide all! Let me know what is your wish or go-to sustainable and heartfelt gift?