As I write this, my family is out doing their Christmas shopping. I was in for some critical medical treatments and then finished up some accounting and whiteboard videos that I have sold and am now thinking about my Christmas shopping. I am very conscious of my carbon footprint and like to have locally-made, handmade, biodegradable, or durable very desired gifts.

I started early this year and bought a lot of my gifts while I was in Africa. I like that the money I spent went directly to people who really needed it. Handmade scrubs for my staff provided training for prisoners and jobs for women. Scraps of material went to make a Noah’s Ark of animals in African prints. Handmade knives used native products and scrap metal. Papyrus reeds were woven into baskets and trivets. Carved figures of reclaimed wood will be the centerpiece of Matt’s Christmas.

There will also be handmade items from the Greenup County Holiday market. An hour of local shopping knocked off several on my list. Native woods were hand turned to make nice ink pens. Handmade soap will be in several stockings and homemade jellies are so festive they will not even need to be wrapped. A few pillows made of recycled material will be in a couple of gift bags. An added bonus was that I got some homemade breads and candy that I didn’t have to clean up the kitchen afterward.

Many other items on my list were handmade also. Etsy had items on both Matt’s and M’Kinzy’s list. Not to give too much away, but they will get hand carved gifts and plenty of harvested edibles. My one expensive gift is customized from a small shop. M’Kinzy will get a warm, blanket that was woven in the U.S. from wool harvested from U.S. sheep. I think it will do well in her cold dorm room. Neither of them will be getting foreign-made plastic this year for gifts from me. M’Kinzy may have liked some, but we do not need any more things that become junk around the house.

Last year my friends got cleaning supplies (biodegradable and environmentally friendly) that smell good. I’m not certain that they really liked them, but at least they are not tossing or regifting them this year. The coffee and local wine was definitely a hit. You might say that I gifted them a gift of less clutter. This year there is a gift that I picked up in Belgium, but I am pretty sure that it will be a hit. If not, the rest is edible and biodegradable and the adult kids won’t have to worry about what to do with it.

The pets are getting some plastic. I have purchased a microchip reading programmable feeder. This should keep the dogs out of the cat food and my Porker Cat will go back to being Parker Cat. They continue to love (or at least I do) their robo-litter box that self cleans, disinfects and re-levels the litter for the cats. (If you are interested we have coupons.) The labs are finally old enough that they can wear non-metal collars without chewing them off and will get some of the ones that we sell from a small company called Silverfoot. They tighten when on a leash and relax when not. The boys will also be getting their pick of toys from the new super chew toys that we got in. Sam and Tequilla will get new toys from the new shipment of bird toys.

In the true spirit of Christmas giving (not exactly), I bought a few things for myself. Of course, I excused this by saying the incredibly colorful hawk shirt shipped for free with one of Matt’s gifts and it was for a good cause. Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky Inc, a nonprofit organization, has taken some of our raptors that need behavioural training and a bald eagle that we got in. Since they run entirely on donations, I thought a few gifts from them was a good idea. Bat Conservation was the source of a new vest for me also.

On a lark, I signed up for two gift exchanges this year. The first was on a sled dog list. I had planned on regifting some trail items from my years on the trail but didn’t get around to finding items to send. Maybe next year. The other was on NOMV (Not One More Vet, a group devoted to preventing the way-too-common vet suicides). It might be cheating, but I sent both of my name draws some of my books. The sled dog person got a pup journal, _It’s Not Just Puppies and Kittens_ and a holiday pillow. The vet got a Pawsitive Coloring book, coloring pens and a couple of bath bombs that she requested. I did allow Amazon to package, write the gift note and mail them for me. Since I wrote the books, that seems a little like shopping locally. And at no time should the holidays add stress and that is what a package and the post office would have been for me.

I will not be able to mail anything to Uganda to my friends there although I would like to. I tried to send a gift of sorts. David, the young lad who helped me with the dogs on World Rabies Day, has been asking me for money. First, he asked for money for school and then for a smartphone. I believe that he will be best working things out with his family for school and that phones aren’t really a necessity. However, he was a lot of help that day. He got blocks to raise the table for me, sent someone for a coke when I couldn’t even make spit to get the dust out of my mouth and learned to be a capable assistant in surgery. I am gifting him a week’s work at The Big Fix. The $50 is a generous amount for work there, but it allows me to reward him for helping that day. Turns out that I will be gifting two others there at the same time. Franco is the assistant at the hospital and would have had to work the whole week by himself. Dr. Arnold will feel better about taking the week off if he knows Franco has some help. Actually, Sarah, who helps from the U.S. has a solution to her problem also. Actually, I am mailing cards to the vet clinic and our guide. I hope that they arrive. Seems strange that there is not mail delivery for anything other than post office boxes and many do not have PO boxes even.

I won’t get by without any plastic gifts and did buy some not locally. The staff party included a trip to a local not-big-box store for a number of small gifts. They also will be getting embroidered jackets and maybe, if we can get it done in time, some locally printed t-shirts. Scrubs will come from a small family owned business. Instead of food from the big guys, we will be getting our party catered.

In short, there will be less given this year. I have seen that sometimes less is more. I will give some time to mentor a new friend in hawking. Hopefully, there will be some new mentees about Guardian Animal that can use some of my time and this year, and this year I hope for time for cookies with M’Kinzy.