Oh no! My Son’s Growing Up and Changing our Family Traditions!

December 31st, 2011

In years past, I’ve blogged about the beauty of the Advent season  and taking time during the frenetic holiday season to Slow Down and Relax.

This year, I took my own advice, and did less blogging – and working – and more cookie baking!  But we still practiced – or tried to practice – the Advent Calendar tradition I’ve chronicled here the past few years.  Tried to practice? That’s what happened when my nine-year-old ig Boy announced he’s too old to read the Christmas story out loud, and wanted to save all his Advent calendar chocolates for one night. In an instant, one of my favorite Christmas traditions was changed – at least for this year.

I was optimistic that our tradition of celebrating the twelve days of Christmas would hold, though. Until Mr. Grown-Up challenged my assertion that it was the Fifth Day of Christmas – and maintained that Christmas CountDown Calendar was only meant for the days leading up to Christmas.

It’s just one more reminder to enjoy each moment, for as well we all know – they grow up so fast. How have your holiday traditions changed as your kids have grown?  Leave a comment and share!

And if I don’t get another post up today, well, Happy New Year! :)

– Lynn

Holiday Blues Got You Down? A Few Tips to Deal with Depression

December 30th, 2011

Christmas Day may be over, but the holiday season is still in full swing, with New Year’s just around the corner. What happens when “the happiest time of the year” is anything but happy? It’s something the @GreenMoms of the Green Moms Carnival discussed when one of our tribe confessed that she was down in the dumps and didn’t feel like blogging. We all chimed in with advice, and Anna of Green-Talk suggested that if we shared it, our thoughts  might help someone else.

We hope the advice we shared with our friend will make the holidays a bit more bearable if you’re struggling too.

I grew up with a Mom who expected every holiday to be like something straight out of Norman Rockwell’s version of perfect Americana. When it didn’t work out that way, she got depressed.

Here are a few tips that may help you – or a friend – deal with the holidays when you feel anything but joyous.

1. Take it easy. If you’re a blogger, don’t feel you have to post all the time. Stop, relax, take time to do what YOU want to do.

2. See if you can volunteer. Sometimes helping others can make your load seem easier.

3. Seek professional help. Anti-depressants and talk therapy BOTH work. Find out what works for you. If you don’t want to visit a therapist, and you are a person of faith, talk with your rabbi, minister, or priest.

Best wishes to you -

Lynn

How to be a Green Consumer: First, Ignore Black Friday! (At least on Thanksgiving!)

November 24th, 2011

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving most of all the holidays because of its simplicity. Eating a good meal with family and friends and giving thanks for all we have is a simple, yet profound act.

But this year, something happened on the way to Thanksgiving. Some stores opened as early as 9 p.m. Thankgiving Day, or never even closed for Thanksgiving, according to The Washington Post.  Black Friday sales are morphing into Small Business Saturday sales which are morphing into CyberMonday sales…and then the countdown of xx days to Christmas begins.

Forget the over commercialization of Christmas. That battle is lost. The new battle is over Thanksgiving. Because the fact is, the early promotion of Christmas sales takes the focus away from much that is special about Thanksgiving.

What happens when our focus shifts from giving thanks to preparing for “deals of a lifetime” the very next day?

Do we still give thanks for all that we have?

Or do we start planning our shopping sprees?

Does our mind wander to all that we don’t have…all that we could have if only …if only we get to the stores early enough. Is our conversation around Thanksgiving time about “wants” and “needs” and “deals” rather than thanks?

I thought I was immune to this. After all, I don’t rush out to the stores on Black Friday. Never have, doubt I ever will. Our family traditions used to include football on Friday – and we still try to include some outdoor time, continuing the Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks for the beauty and wonder of nature.

But this year, it seemed the promotions came early and strong into my email box, and tempted me. Did you know there’s an Iphone app where you can sort all your deals? And even my favorite afterschool Lego program is running discounts, along with plenty of green and organic merchants.

Eileen Fisher Thanksgiving & Black Friday Sale

We’re still looking for a car, and a car dealer sent me a Black Friday savings voucher. I was tempted to start researching the deals in the car on the way to Thanksgiving dinner…but realized I would then fall right into the trap of commercialism, instead of the celebration of Thanksgiving.

I’m not a luddite. I make my living as a marketer, helping companies and organizations bring to market products, services and causes. But I believe that both green marketers and green consumers need to figure out how to take advantage of the Christmas shopping rush without destroying one of the most beautiful and purposeful holidays we Americans still hold dear: Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Table

What do you think? Did you notice a change this Thanksgiving?

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on How to be a Green Consumer: Black Friday edition, hosted by Betsy at Eco-Novice.

Do Dads Get a Bum Deal on Father’s Day?

June 14th, 2011

fathers-day

“Just look at this!” my husband exclaimed, gazing at the selection of grilling guides artfully arranged in the bookstore in anticipation of Father’s Day .

Did I mention – he’s a vegetarian and he doesn’t grill?

“You Moms get spa outings and retreats on Mother’s Day! Us Dads? We’re expected to fire up the grill. And now, we can’t even do that right! You Green Moms are telling us we have to learn how to grill green!”

I laughed, but then I reconsidered. Gee, I realized, school’s even out for Father’s Day. No artfully decorated gifts from the kiddos, carefully project-managed by the kids’ teachers. No, it’s all up to the kiddos and/or Mom to figure out how to commemorate Father’s Day.

What do you think? Do we need to reinvent how we celebrate Father’s Day? What are your traditions? And what are your favorite “green gifts” for a green Dad?

I may also update this old post about what Green Dads want for Father’s Day! If you want to be included, leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter @organicmania!

– Lynn

(Note: This is a reprint of a blog post from 2008. Figured it stood the test of time, so I’d re-spin it! What do you think?)

Kids and Veterans on Memorial Day

May 30th, 2011

I think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer beach season. It wasn’t until my dear brother made a comment about “no one remembering veterans anymore” that I realized Memorial Day could be yet another “teachable moment” with my kids.

When I told my eight-year-old son we were going to watch the Veteran’s Day observance in Rehoboth Beach, he grumbled and groaned. I wasn’t surprised. What kid in his right mind wants to go to something called an “observance” when the sun, sand and boardwalk amusements beckon?

Maybe if he had known a veteran would give him one of the shells fired off in the salute, he would have argued less.

Perhaps if he realized that a World War II veteran would tell him, “Yes, I remember FDR! Of course!” it would make his first big oral book report — due this week –  that much more interesting.

Or had he known that a reporter for the local newspaper would interview him, my idea for the outing might have seemed more exciting.

But in the end, what mattered most to me was not the arguing beforehand, but what he said after the ceremony ended.

“Thank you,” he said to the veterans.

And to me, he said, “Thanks, Mom, I’m glad we came.”

What did you do on Memorial Day? If you didn’t observe the day with veterans, do you plan to next year? Please leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

It’s True: I’m Off to the Royal Wedding

April 1st, 2011

It may be April Fool’s Day, but this is no joke — I’m keeping a promise I made to myself when I watched Lady Diana Spencer walk down the aisle. “Someday,” I told myself, “she’ll have a son. And when he gets married, I’m going to be there.”


My fascination with Princess Diana was in what my husband calls the “full disclosure statements” when we married. He knew that the moment Prince William’s engagement was announced, I’d be on the phone booking tickets to London.

What I didn’t expect was that I’d be leaving my husband and two kids behind to make the trip solo. Back in November, I couldn’t find anyone willing or able to make the journey.

That was then.

This is now.

Recently, scores of old friends have turned up, asking, “Are you going? Do you have a room in London?” I’m now sharing that room with my friend Alison, who’s from Britain by way of Rehoboth’s GoFish! I  suspect that there may even be a few couch surfers joining us, if they can find a way to London.

Today, this package arrived from my BFF. I glanced at the organic Clif bars and the reusable travel containers, and thought he was showing me how his law firm was “going green” with corporate gifts.

Royal Wedding Travel Package

Then I opened a small package containing this beautiful necklace and card, and realized that he had sent me a Royal Wedding Care Package.

The fact that this #ecomonday twitterer will soon be a #royalwedding twitterer is causing some among my “green tribe” to shake their heads in amazement.

But back in the 1980s, when I fell in love with Lady Di, we didn’t know carbon miles from kilometers. I admit the thought of making a trip to London just for this wedding fills me with green guilt. I surfed over to Party Pieces, Kate Middleton’s family’s online party store, hoping to find it a bastion of ecofabulous party items. But alas, it seems that Cheap Plastic Crap is just as popular in the UK as it is here in the US. Perhaps the influence of Prince Charles, with his deep affinity for all things organic and sustainable, will over time have some effect on the lines carried by Party Pieces.

[UPDATE 5/1, Just back from the royal wedding, I checked the Party Pieces website and noticed that just two weeks after this post, on 4/15, they announced, "We're Going Green...How to Have an EcoFriendly Party." Wonderful news...they are in a position now to influence millions to make more sustainable choices when party planning.]

For years, I’ve closely tracked the latest news on the royal family, collected old porcelain teacups commemorating various investitures and weddings, and visited sites as varied as the ancestral Spencer home in London and the infamous tunnel in Paris. 

As technology advanced, my royal tracking did too. I went from hanging outside the Brazilian embassy to catch a glimpse of Princess Di (true story, I was even interviewed by CBS Radio) and travelling to Christie’s New York to see the exhibit of Diana’s dresses to setting a Google alert for “Prince William engagement.” I even “liked” the Queen on FaceBook – and later was outed for it by my friend Julie from MomsToWork. A fiercely independent Australian, she thinks my royal obsession a bit odd. Never mind that my own lineage is Bermudian: the oldest and most loyal of colonies.

Come to think of it, maybe I should pack a Bermudian flag and bring it along!

Bermuda Flag

– Lynn

A Saturday Night Earth Hour Tradition for the Adults: Bermuda’s Black Out Martini

March 26th, 2011

For years now, I’ve been blogging about trying to mark Earth Hour with little kids. You can read about my trials and tribulations in 2008, in 2009 and  in 2010. I thought about going all out this year, focusing on the poignancy of this year’s Earth Hour, given the events in Japan.  But it seemed too…dark. There’s been enough bad news lately.

So this year, with Earth Hour on a Saturday night, it seems appropriate to focus on the adults. And if my husband wasn’t battling something dreadful he dragged in from last night’s Red Eye, here’s what we’d be doing: enjoying the Bermuda Black Out martini.

Take a look:

And yes, I know this video is bleeding over the edges...And no, we haven't started drinking already. With my husband so sick, I don't want to ask for his help fixing this...and soon it will be Earth Hour, so it's time to go dark here.

Enjoy!

Lynn  Continue reading »

Going Green on Saint Patty’s Day (My Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Post)

March 10th, 2011

The “green” holiday is becoming anything but green. Back in the “olden days” when I was a kid, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day was simple. You put on some green clothing,  a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button, and made sure to down some beer that night. If you truly had the Luck of the Irish, you got to watch or march in a fabulous St. Patrick’s Day parade, like the one in New York City where I marched for years.

stpattysephoto

But like everything else in our consumerist society, we’re being prompted to buy more “stuff” to celebrate properly. I’ve admitted to loving the tacky, tacky side of Christmas, replete with blow-up inflatables and lighting, but decorating for the holidays is a longstanding tradition. Do we really need more inflatables barely three months later? This year, St. Patrick’s Day inflatables have popped up on suburban lawns, biding their time till they end up in our landfills. (Check it out here). And more and more, the retailers are offering special Cheap Plastic Crap for St. Patrick’s Day. Cheap Plastic Crap is bad enough in kid’s goody bags. Do we really want to encourage it on St. Patrick’s Day too?

st-pattys-photo

Here are 10 tips for celebrating a truly green, eco-friendly St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun! Luck o’ the Irish to you!
1. Wear Green

2. March or Watch a St. Patrick’s Day Parade

3. Enjoy Some Irish Spirits

4. Sing Irish Songs

5. Visit an Irish Pub or Restaurant

6. Bake and Decorate Some Green Cookies or Cupcakes

7. Try Some Corned Beef and Cabbage Ah, I’ve gone greener since I wrote this post in ’08. Beef is a major contributor to climate change. So skip the corned beef! Tofu and cabbage? Cabbage and beer?  :)

8. Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap for St. Patty’s Day

9. Say No to St. Patty’s Lawn Decorations

10. Smile and Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Have fun!

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania

Note: This post was originally published in 2008.

Simpler Celebrations: Christmas AND Chanukah?

December 1st, 2010

My son came home from school today and declared himself a poor soul because he only gets Christmas presents, not Christmas AND Chanukah presents, like most of the kids in his class.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “Most?”

“Yes,” he insisted. “There’s only like five of us who just celebrate either Christmas OR Chanukah.”  (And he rattled off the names to prove his point).

lightingwreath

Tonight, December 1st, will see some kids lighting candles and getting the first of their Chanukah presents, while others rip open the doors on the first Advent calendar window to snare some chocolate. And apparently, at least here in Bethesda, a lot of kids enjoying both!

It’s tough enough trying to keep the commercialism of Christmas at bay.  How do parents cope with double the demand for presents: Christmas AND Chanukah?

Apparently my eldest son isn’t alone. My youngest son’s teacher told me at pick-up today that the majority of the four-year-olds are celebrating both holidays as well.

My first inclination was to smile. It seems like just yesterday I was debating inter-faith marriage with my friends (and some boyfriends). Would Jewish-Christian couples really be able to honor both faiths as they raised families? Apparently my generation is making it happen!

But how do families celebrating both holidays focus on the traditions that matter most, without the holidays turning into one huge present-fest?   I’d love to hear from those of you who do celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas. Tell me what you’re doing!

calendarbookphoto

In our family, we’ve long had the tradition of the Advent calendar. From one for my eldest to one for each kid, to three – with one for DH and I to share – to this year’s splurge of one Advent calendar for each of us – we love it!

We celebrate Advent with the calendar, Christmas story readings after dinner, and now, Jingle Bells and Ode to Joy on the keyboard.

Christmas Day is just the start of a 12 day celebration finished by Epiphany (which regrettably will be celebrated at Children’s Hospital as my son returns to have his appendix removed).

The holidays are a beautiful time of year. Music, candles, stories, delicious treats and more – all make the holiday spirit last a lot longer than a gift ever can.

What do you think?

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on “Holidays Without the Hoopla,” running at The Green Parent on Monday, December 6th.  Head on over there then to check all of the posts from the @GreenMoms!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

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