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Letter from Publisher

Nov 27, 2020 ● By Peggy Malecki

Peggy Malecki

As I sit down to write this end-of-year letter, I have a mug of hot tea poured and am reflecting on ways that we can build new traditions, share of ourselves and support our communities. Holiday traditions constantly evolve, and this year will certainly break new ground for how family and friends celebrate. We intend for the December issue of Natural Awakenings Chicago to foster a balance of wellness and sustainability with take-action articles, recipes and ideas. Keeping things simple this year may help us to stay more positive, reduce stress and make our celebrations memorable while reinforcing that the spirit of the season and gratitude matter far more than material things.

Shifting the gifts we choose to handmade and unique items purchased locally or bought from small online sellers rather than mass-marketed stuff can bring a new level of consciousness to the holidays. Purposeful gifting keeps money in our local economy, connects us to the people and resources behind what we buy and makes our purchases more impactful and sustainable. Our choices will keep small, local businesses energized now and into 2021. Many stores, services, independent garden centers, holiday entertainers and others rely on this season for much of their annual income . Whenever possible, think small business/website shopping, fair trade items, books and music from independent sellers, handmade holiday wreaths and beautiful plants,  or vintage and upcycled gifts. Hire virtual musical artists for family Zoom gatherings. Give local business gift certificates, services, lessons or CSA shares that your loved ones will look forward to enjoying in the spring and summer.

Get creative this year! Handmade food items, prints of favorite photos, a rooted cutting from a houseplant, crafts, past vacation mementos or other personal items can build new traditions and lasting memories. Host Zoom sessions to share cherished family recipes (kolacký, anyone?), swap stories and pass along traditions. Or build nature connections—think birdfeeders, spring seeds and gardening supplies, museum memberships or perhaps an online course in bird identification or landscape photography.

Consider a local (virtual) holiday table this year by sourcing foods to give or serve from community grocery stores, farms, co-ops and specialty shops. By gathering ingredients this way, you’ll support local organic farmers, increase sustainability and add freshness and nutrition to holidays meals. Maybe try a ready-made cake or pie from a neighborhood bakery (many deliver). Get online delivery from Midwest farms of cheeses, jams, honey and dried fruits, locally milled flours, decorations and gift items, as well as one-time or subscription produce boxes. Resources to check out include BuyFreshBuyLocal.org/Illinois, GreenCityMarket.org/farmers and GrainCollaborative.org.

More than ever, please support others in the ways you are able. Share your abundance, talents, time and money to support and lift up our neighbors, those we’ve not met, organizations, animals and the Earth. From food and resource donations to shoveling a walk for an elderly neighbor, volunteering with a support group, or awarding a smile and generous tip to a tired delivery driver, each of us can help someone else every day in our own way. Give it forward with your actions, words and caring.

As always, I encourage you to step outside your door every day to observe the colors of the sunset or the grays of a cloudy day, listen for the bugling of sandhill cranes or geese far overhead and pause to wonder at the patterns of frost on the window or savor the silence of a snowfall at dusk.

I wish you the peace of the season – happy holidays!