Over-Extended Family Christmas

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Days past, kids were happy with a gift or two for Christmas and basked in the joys of creating gifts for their loved ones. In most households, those days are long gone. Now most houses are filled with Stuff; neglected toys spill into all rooms of the house. According to the American Psychological Association, children see at least 40,000 advertisements a year. Kids haven’t developed filters, leaving them highly susceptible to advertising.  Easily convinced they need the “hottest” toy on the market, they do whatever it takes to eventually wear down their parents so they buy it. And, they not only want Stuff, they are also convinced they need to gather money to buy Stuff for their loved ones as well – a well rounded Consumer.

All this shopping has taken a toll on our families. 2015 Federal Reserve reports show Americans have 918.5 billion credit card debt averaging $7529 per household. No doubt, debt causes stress. Although it may be hard to stop or circumvent the tidal wave of consumerism, there are other options – lots of them.

For starters, thinking about those less fortunate fosters the true meaning of Christmas.  In the spirit of giving back, the family might want to volunteer at a food bank or other organizations serving those in need.  As an annual tradition, the family could join forces, sort through their belongings, and make a donation. Outgrown or unused items find new life through organizations serving those in need.  Maybe enjoy a beautiful day together outside on a family pick-up litter outing. Through giving, the spirit of gratitude and compassion grow.

As for family gifts, with a simple Google search, one can find a myriad of presents kids will enjoy making for their loved ones. To add to the fun, they might need your help! As for gifts for the kids, it won’t be the “hottest” toy, but second hand stores are filled with fun, interesting and stimulating gifts. Expand their world and vision with nature related gifts. Or consider a gift of experience, perhaps a class to boost a natural ability, or a family outing.  Above all, remember Time is the most precious gift of all. Stuff inevitably loses it’s luster, while quality time with a loved one keeps on giving.

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Greece Travels and Giving Back

While in Italy, we took a two week excursion into Greece.  Here too we found fresh produce abounded, recycling a bit less prominent, feral cats everywhere, and again the wonderful Mediterranean diet with no GMO tainted food – Greek Salads and fluffy Greek yogurt strewn with local honey were our favorites.  Small family businesses covered the spectrums of our needs – restaurants, stores, hotels, and more.  Diminishing our pleasure a bit, we struggled with second-hand smoke; of all the countries, Greece has the highest smokers per capita. Fortunately, inside dining was customarily smoke-free.

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