Here at the Farmers’ Almanac, we place a high premium on values such as sustainability, frugality, self-sufficiency, and finding joy in simple things. In this highly mechanized digital age, those same values are being taken up by an increasing number of people, including proponents of the “Slow Food” movement.
Slow Food International and its affiliates, including Slow Food USA, strive to reconnect people with their food, not just by encouraging people to buy local, sustainably-grown food, and to eat in season, but also to rediscover traditional recipes and to slow down and truly enjoy their food. Part of this involves restoring the important role that eating in community once had for most of our ancestors. By learning to appreciate every step our food makes in its journey to nourish us — from the moment it is planted in the ground, to harvesting it, preparing it, and finally enjoying it together with people we love — food can stop being something we shovel into ourselves on the way out the door and become something that truly sustains and nourishes us on more levels than just physical.
What if we applied those same values to the holidays? Think about it. What would a “Slow” holiday look like?
One component would certainly be gift selection. For instance, you might take the time to make more gifts by hand, or to purchase them from local artisans who take pride in their work. Another possibility would be to give the gift of time, offering to help a neighbor with that home improvement project he’s been putting off, or a night of free babysitting so your sister and her husband can have a nice evening out. If your son really has his heart set on the latest video game or technological gizmo, you could look for a used version in good condition, saving yourself some money, helping someone else to have a happier holiday season, and reducing the gift’s impact on our limited natural resources.
Most importantly, though, a slow holiday would mean truly savoring the time you have to share with family and friends. For many, the holiday season has become something to rush through, doing what’s expected of them, just because that’s what they’ve always done. By dropping the expectation of a “perfect” Christmas, you may find the space to rediscover some lost family traditions, or create new ones to add meaning to your holiday.
In keeping with the community focus, you might create a tradition, if your family doesn’t already have one, of taking some time to give back to those in need, either by adopting a needy family, serving dinner at a local soup kitchen, or another activity that you find meaningful.
While taking on all of these suggestions may feel a little overwhelming, which would defeat the purpose of slowing down, trying just one this year might go a long way toward helping you and your family to recapture some of magic of the holiday season. Or, perhaps your family already does many of these things. If so, please share your experiences below!