Living room with fireplace and decorated Christmas tree

Living room with fireplace and decorated Christmas tree.

As the sun sets on Christmas 2015, I thought this would be a good time to assess the success of this year’s efforts to find the magic of Christmas.  After all, is this what this is all about?

Each year, the end of the Thanksgiving Day celebration marks the beginning of the race to Christmas.  We shop for hours on end, both online and in local stores.  We send out cards to friends and family.  We gather together for parties and celebrations at our homes, places of work and worship, etc.  We plan holiday trips to visit family in our hometowns or elaborate vacations to the far ends of the world.  With all of this effort, we must be searching for something.

The Season of Subliminal Messages

Throughout the holiday season, our senses are attacked from all angles by subliminal messages on the “meaning of Christmas” and “the reason for the season”.  Every charity known to mankind lets us know that it is time to open our hearts and wallets to help the poor, the wounded, the abandoned, etc.  You cannot and must not pass the Salvation Army bell ringer without giving.  Even the Girl Scouts are posted outside the local grocery stores to sell cookies.  Turn on the television and you get bombarded with an onslaught of commercials, which depict families gathered together lovingly enjoying the latest electronic devices or toys.

All of these things tug at the heartstrings and pursestrings, but do they really help us find or recreate that ever-elusive magic of Christmas.

From my perspective, the answer is a resounding NO!  The magic of Christmas is not based in commercialism as we are led to believe.  It is something that cannot be bought with money.

The True Magic of Christmas

Perhaps the best thing and the worst thing about social media is that it provides a great platform for anyone and everyone to speak his or her mind at any given time.  Often spontaneous musings or offline comments reveal more about one’s true feelings than do carefully pondered statements or prepared responses.  Herein lies the key to solving the magic of Christmas.

If we look closely at the Facebook statuses and tweets of friends and acquaintances, we see a pattern at this time of year.

  1.  Nostalgia.  Childhood memories of planning and celebrating Christmas at a time when life was slower, calmer and simpler.
  2. Friends and Family.  This is the time of year that we really miss our departed loved ones.  We send up prayers for them and we relish in our fondest memories of them.
  3. A greater feeling of Charity.  During this time of year, we are more likely to have a spirit of giving to those who are less fortunate.
  4. Greater Sense of Humanity.  During the holiday season, most people really and truly want peace on earth, more than at any other time of year.
Car carrying a Christmas tree in a miniature evergreen forest

Car carrying a Christmas tree in a miniature evergreen forest


The bottom line is that the magic of Christmas really is not ever-elusive.  It is right there all the time, just waiting for each of us to embrace it, not only on December 25th, but everyday.  Imagine if we began each day drawing our strength from our foundations.  The lessons learned from our loved ones, those here and departed, are the greatest gifts ever and go a long way to guide us each day.  Taking time out to reflect on our experiences, plans and even limitations will save us time, money and help us avoid many of the mistakes we make in life.  A mindfulness of the environment and respect for each other will foster a happier and wholesome life.  I think this truly is the magic of Christmas!


English: Pine tree (Pinus strobus) needles in ...

English: Pine tree (Pinus strobus) needles in the winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While we still have some time left to enjoy our Christmas trees, wreaths and garland, we do have to decide what we are going to do with these items after the holidays are over. Of course, one option is to sit your tree curbside to be picked up by your local trash collector. A glance at the pickup schedule will give you the dates for curbside pickup. Most localities will recycle these materials for mulch.

If you would like to start the year off right with a strong commitment to living green, there are other alternatives for your greenery. Today we will review a few of these ideas, and maybe you will find a suggestion you want to try.

  • Some Christmas trees can be recycled for medicinal purposes, such as pine sap used as an antibacterial to seal wounds. See website Along these same lines, pine needles can be used for medicinal teas, which are purportedly beneficial for antibacterial infections. This idea does come with a caveat. It is mandatory that you know what kind of tree you have. Many trees on the market today are fir, rather than pine. You do not want to consume fir needles ever.
  • Thickener. Pine cones can be ground up and used as a thickener like flour or corn starch. The inner bark of the pine tree is full of Vitamin C. Once again, you must know definitively that you have a pine tree.
  • Firewood and starter. Once the wood has dried out completely, it can be used for firewood. It is important to monitor the buildup of creosote in your chimney as these softer woods do cause a fast buildup. However, these products are great for outdoor use in bonfires or fire pits.
  • Fish covers and habitats. If you have a pond, sunken trees make a great fish cover. It is important that you check local regulations prior to sinking trees in lakes to create fishing spots.
  • Fertilizer. Ground pine trees can be used in your home compost pile. If you have alkaline soil, this much will lower the pH.
  • Potpourri. The needles from pine, spruce or fir trees can be combined with other scented plants, cloves, or orange peels and essential oils to creat great scents for the home that also can be used for gifts.

If you are not interested in taking on any of the above-mentioned projects, you still can discard your Christmas tree in a manner that is environmentally conscientious. The National Christmas Tree Association’s website contains very helpful information on conservation projects which use real Christmas trees. Some of these suggestions also make excellent projects for scouts and other community organizations. Please go to for further information.

The Christmas holiday is a wonderful time to celebrate life, renewal and the environment. This gift-giving time presents a unique opportunity to give back to the earth. Your recycled trees are fully biodegradable and can be used in so many ways to live green, be green.

English: Used paper is collected for paper rec...

English: Used paper is collected for paper recycling in Ponte a Serraglio near Bagni di Lucca, Italy Deutsch: Altpapier auf einem Recyclinghof in Ponte a Serraglio bei Bagni di Lucca, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the stress, hustle and bustle of the holiday season makes it difficult to stay focused on green living, especially as it pertains to gift wrapping items, we at LGBG want our readers to know that eco-friendly gift wrapping materials are available.  This alternative will go a long way to make us all feel better about that heap of discarded wrapping paper, cards and gift tags that we see every Christmas morning.

There are a number of companies that make paper products from recycled materials that deserve to be mentioned.

  • Of The Earth makes paper products from “at least 50% recycled content from fibers derived from the Himalayan lotka bush“.  The products from this company are available in solid and festive patterns  The fibers in these papers are strong enough to make the paper reusable.  The paper products from Of The Earth are extra special because their holiday selections are embedded with wildflower seeds that can be planted in the spring.  Of The Earth also offers sustainable ribbons with beautiful designs that enhance any gift.
  • Fish Lips Paper Designs sells holiday gift wrap made from at least 50% recycled paper.  This paper is printed with soy-based inks and hosts a smooth satin finish.  This company touts that its paper “will make even the worst gift look fun and exciting”.
  • Botanical Paperworks delivers paper products made with recycled paper, also with embedded wildflower seeds.  Your gifts delivered with this company’s cards and tags are special because “they just keep on giving”.
  • Lucky Crow Gift Bags is a leader in the growing trend of fabric gift bags.  These colorful sacks can be used for storage, display or they can be regifted.
  • These alternatives to traditional paper gift products offer a great way to protect the environment.  With all of these suggestions, we can have beautifully wrapped gifts without destroying trees.  This definitely is a way to celebrate the season while protecting the environment, which helps us live green, be green.

Source for this article:

Today for good green news, let’s talk about holiday celebrations.  Now that the Christmas shopping is well underway and the decorating is complete, we can turn attention to planning a green Christmas party.

The first order of business is planning the theme in terms of color, linens, place-setting, etc.  This year, try to avoid using disposable plates and cutlery, or if that is not possible, try to use green brands.  There are a number of websites that offer eco-friendly party ware, and also Party City stocks some green items.

When it is time to shop for food for your party, please remember the local merchants.  This is a great time to visit the local butcher, who is an expert at filling your meat orders based on expected attendance and who is more than willing to order specialty items for your holiday parties and feasts.  Also consider purchasing fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts from local vendors.  This is an excellent opportunity to support the local economy.  When planning your party menu, remember that the more you serve, the more people will eat and drink.  Try to limit over-consumption by using smaller plates to limit portion size and by limiting the available items on the menu.  Add a special touch to your holiday fare by including dishes with less meat and more vegetables, and be more than happy to provide the recipes to visitors when they ask for them.  This is your opportunity to demonstrate how appetizing a green diet can be.

No Christmas party is complete without spirits– the alcohol kind.  This year, visit your local beer crafters and distillers for great suggestions on items to serve.  Remember that you can get good beer and wine from home in any state in the United States.  A great place to start your search is and  On the latter site, you can find information on natural and organic spirits.  Also, check out our earlier blog on drinking green at  For a special added touch, considering serving a signature drink.

Also,  here is a good site for some ideas.

For a few housekeeping matters, when inviting guests to your holiday party, use telephone and electronic messages to reduce the use of paper.  The use of electronic messaging and invitations also carries a built-in method to monitor the RSVPs.  Secondly, plan ahead to recycle when cleaning up after the party.

It's just around the corner...

It’s just around the corner… (Photo credit: ecstaticist)

Christmas celebrations present wonderful opportunities to visit with family and friends.  Party hosting can be hectic, but with a little planning and research, party preparation can be less stressful, thrifty and green.  This Christmas let’s party green, live green, be green.

For good news Monday, we have tips for getting the best Christmas tree and keeping it fresh and healthy throughout the holiday season.

For beginnings, the best trees are live trees, not artificial ones, because the latter often are imported and contain toxic materials, such as lead.  If possible, try to purchase a tree from a local tree farm.  This will guarantee the freshness of your tree.  Also, buying local reduces transportation and shipping costs, along with reducing carbon emissions.  An excellent website to find local businesses for family farms and organic products is

When purchasing a precut tree from a nursery or local group, such as the Scouts or churches, inquire about the freshness of the trees as well as the location

A Christmas tree farm in Iowa, United States.

A Christmas tree farm in Iowa, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

which they were shipped.  When inspecting trees for purchase, check the needles to ensure that they are flexible and not dry.

Once you have selected a tree, it is important that you get it home and in water as soon as possible.  Try to select a place for display that is out of direct sunlight and away from fans, heaters, or humidifiers in order to avoid drying out prematurely.  Decorate with inflammable, nontoxic ornaments  and LED lights, which burn much cooler than incandescent lights.  Once the holiday season is over, please check local community directories for programs that collect trees for mulch.

Let’s make getting a Christmas tree and decorating it a green family activity.  Have a Merry Green Christmas and live green, be green.

Nativity scene at Sacred Heart Catholic Church...

Nativity scene at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in the historic Barelas neighborhood, Albuquerque, NM, Jan 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Friday is approaching fast, and with it comes the official start of the Christmas shopping season, which we hope will culminate into a great green Christmas.  Now is the perfect time to put into place a game plan to ensure that this hectic time of our lives can proceed as smoothly as possible.  Also, with some planning, we can have an enjoyable holiday without disrupting our commitment to live green.

A great place to begin with our holiday planning is in the selection of retailers to shop for holiday foods, gifts and decorations.  A good source to make this determination is Newsweek Green Rankings.  This website provides several listings, including the greenest retailers in America, the World’s greenest companies, as well as the least greenest companies.  Additionally, listings per industry, such as food and tech companies also are provided.  In reviewing these entries, the savvy green shopper can see how publically traded companies in the United States are globally rank “based on their actual environmental footprint, and sustainability communications“.  These rankings have been produced by Newsweek in collaboration with Trucost and Sustainability, two leading environmental organizations.  Making this list is not a matter of choice, and companies cannot opt out of inclusion.  These evaluations provide green-minded consumers an excellent resource to make informative decisions on businesses worthy of their dollars.

Perhaps the second largest area of importance to consumers during the holiday season is decorating.  Starting with Christmas trees, it is important to remember that there is nothing green about an artificial Christmas tree.  Even the color is not natural.  Generally, they have been imported from China, and they are made from petroleum-based chemicals and often contain lead.  Most importantly, they cannot be recycled.  On the other hand, a real Christmas tree provides a beautiful and fragrant decoration for the holiday season, and it can be recycled into mulch or purchased with a ball root that can be planted.  Imagine a grove of trees representing past Christmases celebrated by the family.  Another point to mention is that the purchase of live trees often can be made from local harvesters, thereby providing economic support to the community.

Tree lights and decorations also are important.  This year, please try to use LED lights.  They burn 10% of the energy of older incandescent bulbs, and they are safer because they run cooler in temperature.  LED lights can be used indoors and outdoors.  When purchasing other greenery, try to avoid plastic wreaths and garland because they contain harmful compounds.  Visit local nurseries and buy natural products that can be recycled.

When it is time to shop for gifts, try to break out of the box this year.  Support local holiday fairs and fair trade bazaars to purchase unique gifts while simultaneously supporting these artisans.  With the popularity of online shopping, please consider online gift cards and email Christmas cards.  These items reduce the need for paper and transportation for delivery, thus reducing the carbon footprint.

Christmas is a beautiful time to celebrate life and family.  It also is an excellent opportunity to recognize the beauty of our Earth and the need to preserve it for future generations.  To that end, let’s use this time to renew our commitment to live green, be green.