Today’s the Day: Take Back Christmas, Fighting Commercialization of the Holidays and Celebrating Advent

November 28th, 2010

Sunday, November 27th is more than just the final day of the “Black” shopping weekend following Thanksgiving.  It’s the first Sunday in Advent. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind injecting a bit of religion into your Christmas celebration,  it’s a great day to start doing so, and to forge a Christmas tradition set apart from the mass commercialization that marks the American Christmas season.

Just what does it mean to celebrate Advent?

Advent is the period of four Sundays preceding Christmas Day. Celebrated by the Catholic church, and many branches of Protestantism, although not all, it is traditionally a quiet time of waiting.  Obviously, with Christmas carols playing before Thanksgiving, marking the traditional Advent quiet time is a challenge for most families who choose to mark the occasion.

That’s precisely why I like it so much. (I’m always up for a good challenge!)

In my church, we have a saying: Slow Down. Relax. Quiet. It’s Advent.

Are you going to observe Advent this year?

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

Remembering Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2010

“Are the trees part of Thanksgiving?,” my four-year-old asked from the backseat as we drove past a stand selling Christmas trees.

It was the day before Thanksgiving.

“No,” I started to answer, before the radio’s Christmas carols interrupted.

When did Christmas become a part of Thanksgiving?

KidsThanksgivingTurkeyphoto

Admittedly, Advent comes early this year – it starts tomorrow – but that’s clearly not the answer, since what I call “the commercial Christmas” bears no relation to the Christian practice of Advent, the period of waiting for Christ’s birth.

When I was a kid back in New Jersey, Thanksgiving traditions were a blur of football, parades, long walks through the fallen leaves, and of course, the feast we all still relish.  In my memory, there was a long break between Christmas and Thanksgiving…..they didn’t seamlessly merge together as they do today.

NewJerseyfootball

But perhaps that depends where you live. I was relieved to find the site New Jersey football, which shows high school games still being played on Thanksgiving Day.  Unfortunately, here in Bethesda and the surrounding DC area, the high school football season wraps up in early November.

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday for three reasons:

1)    simplicity

2)    unity and

3)    meaning.

Leavesphoto

I love the fact that Thanksgiving doesn’t require fancy gifts and over the top decorations. It’s a simple holiday – one anyone can celebrate just by making a lovely meal and giving thanks. It unifies us: all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. No need to worry about one’s religious affiliation or fear offending anyone. And doesn’t it make sense for all of us to give thanks?

But now, Thanksgiving seems like a few hour weigh station on the eve of Black Friday.

How are you keeping your Thanksgiving traditions alive?  Can we really counter the early onslaught of the overly commercialized holiday season?

– Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Green Moms Take on Cement? Green or (Ack, Cough, Gasp) Not If You’re Living Near the Plant

November 16th, 2010

One of the things I most love about the Green Moms Carnival is getting to know such a diverse group of women from all over the country. Lisa of Retro Housewife Goes Green is someone I never would have met were it not for the Internet. She’s an environmental activist in, of all places, Oklahoma. Now I’ve met plenty of activists from progressive places like California, Oregon, and DC, but…Oklahoma…? It takes a very determined person to agitate for change there.

Lisa has a very personal battle going on with the cement plant in her home town. Check out her post and those from other @GreenMoms at  Retro Housewife Goes Green.

– Lynn

What’s green enough for a LEED rating but not green enough to breathe?

November 15th, 2010

The first time I heard that concrete was considered a green building material, I was surprised. Hadn’t I heard lots of buzz about forgoing concrete walkways in favor of  stone and other pervious building materials, which are much better for storm drainage?

But the glossy brochures from the cement makers assured me that concrete was a material of choice for LEED building projects –the material of choice for green schools.  And in fact, there were now pervious varieties of concrete, so you can still use concrete on the walkways after all.

Chastened by my lack of knowledge about concrete, I dutifully added it to my ever expanding list of “eco friendly” materials. Then my bloggy friend Lisa from Retro Housewife Goes Green told the @GreenMoms about her battles with the cement plant in her hometown in Oklahoma. It seems that production of this green building material – destined for high class kitchen counters, big city buildings, and new green schools – emits some pretty noxious fumes.

And indeed, a google search quickly turned up some stories about how the EPA only recently started tightening restrictions on concrete production, which has toxic, carcenogenic byproducts such as mercury.

What ever happened to cradle-to-cradle? How can concrete be considered green by the architects, yet be a poison to those unfortunate enough to live in the shadow of the cement plants?

I’m eager to read the round-up of posts on this subject over at Retro Housewife Goes Green, and I’m especially curious about whether the architects and interior designers have used their marketplace clout to encourage the cement manufacturers to clean up their acts.

– Lynn