Now that Christmas is all packed up in the attic again, time for a little reflection on one of the many things we throw away at this time of year. (Also, scroll down for a vegan festive smoothy recipe at the bottom).
The run up to Christmas can be a lonely time whilst living in another country (I live in France). So whilst wrapping presents when my little one was napping, I decided to cheer myself up by watching some of the Christmas versions of Friends. Unbelievable that this series began over 23 years ago! (Just for the record I always skip the ones with Marcel the monkey :- having worked in primate conservation I know how many Capuchins ended up abandoned or dying from neglect as a result of the craze for having one as a pet that these episodes triggered.)
But even though Friends is now so old it’s beginning to look retro, when reflecting on the characters, I began to realise that Phoebe, the ‘crazy, loopy’ Friend, is actually ahead of her time. The Friend who always seems to be slightly away with the fairies…..she’s actually the sanest one of all of them! Vegetarian, Christmas tree hugger (we seldom stop to reflect on the environmental impact of the fir/spruce tree trade for Christmas) and spouting lyrics such as (during the blackout episode) “New York city has no power And the milk is getting sour But to me that is not scary ‘Cause I stay away from dairy”.
During one Christmas episode, Joey gets a job as a Christmas tree chipper and when Phoebe discovers the fate of the trees, her distress is little more than an opportunity for some comedic ‘humouring’ of her apparently over emotive personality. And yet…….doesn’t she have a point? How much land and resources have to be put aside every year to grow a tree that will essentially be displayed and decorated for only a short time, then mainly consigned to the scrap heap? Now I have nothing against decorating the Christmas tree, indeed it’s one of my favourite things to do, but a couple of years ago I decided that although real ones may smell and look lovelier than fake ones, it was time to invest in a more sustainable solution. So I ordered a Christmas tree made out of recycled carrier bags (yes they do exist)! It’s fantastic and looks pretty convincing too.
Christmas is, for most (and for those who celebrate it of course), a beautiful time when we catch up with friends and family and rejoice together. Having a 20 month old little boy took me back to how I embraced this time of year as a child. Although my parents made Christmas very special (leaving a carrot out for the reindeer which always had a convincing bite mark out of it the next morning, and lots of other little traditions) we were also taught that Christmas was not only about receiving and consumerism.
As we traveled light back to the UK this year, I informed relatives we wouldn’t be bringing too many gifts. Instead of putting time into the crazy horrendous shopping rush (don’t even mention the words Black Friday to me!) I decided to do something a bit special and so we made our Christmas cards this year, with Wilf, my son’s, footprint as the Christmas tree. We put a lot of time and love into the cards and I think, and hope, that this was appreciated more than what a meaningless gift that came from China might have been (of course there are plenty of locally made lovely gift options available too – most Christmas markets sell beautiful hand crafted produce by local artisans).
When we took down our Christmas tree a couple of weeks ago to stow it for yet another year, I reflected on how Wilf will be nearly 3 by next Christmas and the dreaded time of ‘wanting this’ and ‘wanting that’ will perhaps have already begun. But at least with a little thought and imagination and spending some time with kids making crafts and taking the chance to see and give to loved ones, it is also an opportunity to demonstrate to little and loved ones that Christmas can be a time about so much more than commercial chintz and consumerism.
Festive Smoothy Recipe
Ok, so Christmas is over, but these ingredients still taste great at this time of year and it’s a good one for getting some vegan power down the hatchet to get us through the long, dark days until Spring!
A little piece of ginger (if you’re making it for kids go easy on this, my little man really balked at the ‘fizziness’ it gives to the smoothy, but I love it!)
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
Plant milk yoghurt (coconut, almond, soya – rainforest friendly of course)
2 dates (stones removed!)
Quarter of a cup of Chia seeds – pre soaked for a few hours in triple the volume of water
Put everything in a blender and blast!