The holiday season is upon us. I know, I can’t believe it either. The year has just been flying by and we are already approaching the end. It’s now the season of slowing down, visiting with friends and family, and reflecting upon the countless blessings that abound. But there is something about this time of year that I personally grapple with. That is consumerism. So much attention is directed towards scoring the best deals at the mall, making wish lists, and buying everyone in your life a materialistic item they may not even need or use. The culture around the holidays, especially Christmas, feels stressful and overwhelming to me. So I am working on shifting this paradigm, starting with myself and hoping it will spread to my family and friends, and trickle out into my community.
The first step I have taken, and have been practicing for a couple of Christmases now, is alternative gift giving. This is a simple first step because it does not deviate too much from the norm. It still involves the giving and receiving that people are used to, but it shifts the focus away from the fleeting trends that color the usual exchange of material items. This way, the spotlight is on the thoughtfulness of the gift and how it can help cultivate a deeper relationship between the giver and receiver. For example, I spent numerous hours over the summer canning tomato sauce and dehydrating herbs for my parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. On Christmas they will open a thoughtful, homemade gift that they know I put much love and care into. Now they can taste the freshness of Summer in the dead of Winter. If you ask me, there is not a much better gift to receive than that.
In this day and age, everything is at our fingertips. If we decide we want the newest Iphone or a popular new outfit, we can access it very easily without even having to leave our houses. With the advent of online, same-day delivery shopping, how can we expect to get someone a gift they will love, appreciate, and not already have? Honestly, it's a struggle for me. Which is why I make farm goodies as gifts because it's personalized and unavailable at the store. I know my family will love whatever I prepare for them because it's a reflection of my passion and eagerness for farming. My free time is limited, so when I spend multiple weekends over the Summer in my kitchen with mason jars all over the counters, tomatoes coming out the wazoo, teary eyes from all the onions I’ve chopped up, stove tops going all day, and overall just making the biggest mess imaginable, I’m bound to finish with a delicious tomato sauce made with love that will absolutely bring smiles to my family’s faces.
If you're not confident in your homemade gift making skills (even though anyone can find something they are good at making. Look up a recipe for Christmas crack and all your relatives will be begging for more), supporting small, local businesses is a great option. The farmer’s market always has cool vendors selling things like candles, jewelry, and specialty food products like olive oil. This is great because you are connecting with your community and not just buying gifts that are from a big box store. Other alternative gift ideas include giving someone an experience rather than a material item. This could be going out to eat, purchasing tickets for a concert or a day at Longwood Gardens, for example. This will create memories that people can cherish forever, a wonderful gift.
Another way to shift the modern mindset regarding the holidays more towards one of community, love, and friendship is simply to spend quality time with your loved ones. Now that I am older and on my own, I have to make an intentional effort to devote time to seeing my family. And when I do go home I want the time we have together to be meaningful. This holiday season I have been and will continue to extend an invitation to my family members to join me at church. We were all raised Catholic, but my twin sister, older sister and I are the only ones who continue to attend mass regularly. This is a great time of year to remind people of the beauty and peace that comes from cultivating a relationship with God. When we take the time during the holidays to be thankful, it's hard to forget that God is always with us. Even when we face tremendous obstacles, God continues loving us and being with us through those lows. Expressing my own faith and helping my family rekindle theirs puts the focus on the true meaning of Christmas, which is to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
On Thanksgiving, my siblings and I all went to church together. It was such a nice occasion. I pray my little siblings especially develop a deep devotion to their faith as us older sisters encourage them on this journey. I urge any of you who are practicing Christians to offer this same encouragement to your friends and family and reignite the sacredness of Christmas in their hearts this holiday season.
Lastly, giving to charity and volunteering in your community is an exceptional way to unite all the suggestions I mentioned above. It is an opportunity to give to those less fortunate with a gift of the materialistic kind such as food, clothing, or a toy for a child; or, it may be simply a gift of your time, which we all know is often limited in our hustle and bustle lifestyles. Giving your time to someone else is also an experiential gift for yourself and the receiver. Whoever you are supporting in your volunteer work will be thankful for your efforts and happy to see a welcoming face. You may also choose to bring your family along and create the space for developing new friendships within your community. This is especially valuable if you have young children as it will teach them the importance of doing things for others. Finally, volunteering your time to a worthy cause is a reflection of the ministry work of Jesus Christ. Walking in solidarity with those who are struggling is what Jesus calls us to do. What better time than the season we celebrate Christ’s birth is there to carry out this mission? All in all, giving back to the community reminds us of all the blessings in our own lives and spurs an attitude of gratitude within our hearts.
I hope you accept my invitation to challenge the status quo this holiday season and try out one or all of my suggestions. You definitely will not regret it! And if you want to support us on our calling to feed our community nutritious produce, eggs, and meat consider donating to our Pay it Forward Program. This is a project of ours we have started to get our customers involved in helping distribute food to those who cannot afford it. You can make a one time donation or recurring ones, whatever you are willing. We would greatly appreciate your support.
And thank you to all who have been supporting TWF this year and years past. I have only been here for 10 months, but without all of you I would not have the opportunity to work in such an amazing place. I hope you all enjoy your holidays and spend lots of quality time with friends and family.
Until next time,
The Return of Robinhood
Nestled into a hidden woods on Robinhood Road, in Havre de Grace Maryland, exists a picturesque farm community; a place of green pastures, beautiful woodlands, and colorful fruits and vegetables. And in this thriving place, a place called Third Way Farm, there is also a community on a mission to build a better world through a holistic and regenerative approach to agriculture; a mission grounded in our faith and our belief in a world where all have a place at the table. Where, when we give back to the land, and to one another, all of creation thrives.
We are farming on land that was once inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the Piscataway and Susquehannock tribes. We recognize that this land was unjustly taken from them without their permission. We hope our lives upon and care for this land will honor their legacy and wisdom in living harmoniously with this place.
Third Way Farm
Barn Store Hours
601 Robinhood Road
Havre de Grace, Maryland 21078
Barn Store Hours
601 Robinhood Road
Havre de Grace, Maryland 21078