Rachel Garber

As the snow flies, I offer you a little poem written by my poet-sister, Esther Garber. She’s far away in Virginia where, incidentally, the flow is also snying. Some time ago, she sent me a little poetic promissory note, and I’ve treasured it ever since.

“I accept myself today as I am. I promise to accept myself tomorrow as I will be. I will love and care for myself as I would for my dearest friend and forgive myself as I do others”
What a gift! Thank you, Esther. Your gift of self-love is among the best, I think, of those that enhance love in the world without enmassing junk.

Especially plastic junk. I’m told we “gift” our oceans with eight million tonnes of plastic each year – roughly two-and-a-half shopping bags full for every inch of coastline. These plastics break down into microplastics which fish eat, which in turn we eat. Yes, plastics are in our water, in our food, and in our guts. What a gift!

Last week I bought some potatoes. Instead of putting them in a single-use plastic bag the grocery store provides, I put them straightaway into a light cloth bag. How many ways can we refuse to accept single-use plastic bags, straws, water bottles and more? What a gift that would be!
Here are a few more junk-free holiday gift suggestions, some of them courtesy of the David Suzuki Foundation.

1. Give presence instead of presents. Give experiences such as going to a movie together, or another favourite activity. Enjoy the great outdoors, a family visit to a park, snowshoing or skiing. Intangibles can be the most memorable of gifts.

2. Remember cloth hankies? Yes, their time has come around again. Maybe gift a handkerchief, along with a bottle of do-it-yourself hand sanitizer: 60 ml aloe gel, 125 mi grain alcohol such as vodka or rubbing alcohol, a few drops of tea tree or thyme essential oil and 30 ml of vegetable glycerin.

3. Give to those who really need. Think of volunteering at your local food bank or donating to local charities, such as Mental Health Estrie’s HUGS for the Homeless campaign. (HUGS means hats, underwear, gloves/mitts, and socks or scarves.) It could become a family tradition.

4. Shop at your local comptoir or thrift shop. Little is more thrilling than unearthing a great find in an unlikely location. In the same vein, re-gifting is good and it is so IN.

5. Use natural decorations. Let’s face it, glitter can become litter in the blink of an eye. Remember popcorn strings? Fun, and yum!

6. For wrapping gifts, re-use paper or cloth bags. Look up the art of furoshiki on the internet. It’s the ingenious Japanese method of fabric wrapping by tying a square of cloth in many different ways for various uses.

7. And those old holiday cards can become even more awesome using a clever pair of scissors, a bit of glue and your very own creativity. Collage is fun, to boot.

8. Give living plants that can be moved outside in the spring, or give plant seeds.
Here is my favourite gift project this year: Jonathon Ellison heads the Water for Women project, gifting wells, seeds and compost to about 1000 women in Senegal who are small-scale garden farmers. When he visited us recently, he noticed our bumper crop of squash piled in a cool corner of the diningroom.

The upshot: we’re eating a lot of squash so we can wash and dry the seeds and pack them into a paper bag for their trip to Senegal. What a gift to those women, but also to ourselves!

All kinds of juicy tidbits about the history of transportation in the Haut-Saint-François are in preparation, in both languages. School children are especially invited. See the article in these pages, and be there on Saturday, December 1st, at the Armoury Community Centre, 563 Main St., Bury.

Share the warmth of good company and good tea, courtesy of the Municipality of Newport, on Tuesday, December 4, at 1:30 p.m., at the Municipal Hall, 1452 Route 212 in Island Brook.

A concert by Townships singer/songwriter Jon MacAulay is on Friday, December 7, at 8 p.m. at the Salle Guy-Veilleux, 75 Castonguay, Cookshire-Eaton. Tickets: $25.

Colour Café times two: First, on Tuesday, December 11, at 2 to 4 p.m., at the Centre des femmes du Haut-Saint-François La Passerelle, 275 Principale East, Cookshire-Eaton. Second, on Friday, December 14, at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Eaton Valley Community Learning Centre, 523 Stokes, Bury. Info: Townshippers’ Association at 819-566-5717 or

Anglican. Sunday worship services are at 9:30 a.m. at St. Paul’s Church in Bury, and at 11 a.m. in Cookshire. On December 2, the latter is in the theatre in the Manoir de l’Eau Vive, and on December 9, it is in the St. Peter’s Church Hall. Info: 819-887-6802.
United. Sunday worship services are at 9:30 a.m. at Trinity United in Cookshire, and at 11 a.m. at Sawyerville United. Also, Christmas Carols and Lessons are on Sunday, December 9, at 7 p.m. at the Bishopton United Church. All are welcome. Info: 819-889-2838 (listen to message) or Rev. Tami Spires, 819-452-3685.
Messy Church. Stories, crafts, singing and supper at the next Messy Church at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 550 Main St., Bury, on Monday, December 10, at 5:30 p.m. A joint United and Anglican intergenerational event. All are welcome. Freewill offering. Info: Rev. Tami Spires, 819-452-3685.
Baptist. In Sawyerville, the Sunday worship service is at 9 a.m. in French, and 11 a.m. in English. Sunday school is at 10 a.m. in English and French. Info: 819-239-8818.
Do you have news to share? Call 819-300-2374 or email by December 3 for publication December 12 and by January 2 for January 9.

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