Progressive holiday gift ideas

Get your mind into the holiday spirit of giving with a great mantra for progressives the world over: “What happens to the beast if you don’t feed it?”

But, if you must shop, patronize/matronize your neighborhood vendors, local producers, community artisans, etc. Check labels for where items were made, even if stocked by your local stores. Consider the environmental cost of imported goods before you buy. (Did you know that most products are now flown overseas, rather than shipped in freighters?)

Google “union made USA goods” for a list of items made by sisters and brothers whose employers haven’t run away and who negotiate with their workers.

Always bring a cloth bag or two or an old-fashioned market basket with you to schlep your goods and save paper/plastic. It raises other shoppers’ consciousness at the same time, too.

Make as many of your gifts as possible from stuff you have around the house: wine cork bulletin boards; tin can luminarias; collages or calendars using fabulous, courageous, inspiring photos, cartoons and headlines from your favorite magazine or newspaper. (Like from People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo, of course; then you could give a gift sub!)

Original poems, stories, songs, performances of any type are gifts, too.

Give the gift of time shared with friends or family by arranging a potluck-everybody-dress-up-in-the-best-of-their-old-clothes dinner or reserve a night or two at a public lands lodge or green bed and breakfast; take a train to get there instead of driving.

Search the secondhand stores for sparkly accessories, hardcover books, wine glasses, vases, pottery.

Bake a batch of biscotti, corn bread, fudge; include the recipe on a handwritten, illustrated card; include a packet of one of the essential ingredients: pine nuts, dark chocolate chips, jalapeno peppers.

Use leftover yarn, string, rubber bands, ribbons to tie around packets of native seeds, heirloom seeds, potted herbs for kitchen windows, with a card that gives a thumbnail sketch of its natural history, uses and benefits, suggestions for planting or transplanting.

Invite friends, neighbors, family to an evening candle lighting in your backyard or living room. Suggest that the adults and children alike make a wish for the New Year as they each light a candle.

Mine is for courage and hope. An uncle of mine who has been known to play the horses will attest that the long shots do win.