1. Buy a 'living' Christmas tree

I grew up in Holland and as a kid I used to often wonder why we would always see so many dead Christmas trees on the side of the road at the start of a new year, we love them so much during Christmas, decorate them and even sing to them all to have them tossed out with the trash in the new year, does that really make sense? Then a couple of days ago I came across a Yoga Journal article with such nice ideas that took me back to the good old days of my own childhood. Here is what I read in that magazine:

"...Every year on the winter solstice (21/12), my daughter and I buy a live tree. We spend the day with friends and family, eating, drinking, and decorating the tree with strands of dried apples, raisins, an other edible decorations while we talk about all we have learned in the past year. Then we write our hopes and dreams for the coming year on strips of paper and tie those to the tree too. On Christmas morning we head outside to plant the tree (edible decorations for the birds), to grow and flourish along with our wishes for the new year...."

Reading this gave me a very warm feeling in my heart and this year we're going to continue do the same and have a living Christmas tree, it's a norfolk pine and we look forward to planting it in the garden.

Orange Ornaments
Cut oranges crosswise into 3/4-inch slices to create a pinwheel effect, keeping them as uniform as possible in thickness. Lay on a baking sheet or aluminum foil in the oven set at the lowest temperature (around 150 degrees F). Leave them to bake for about four hours, then turn with a spatula, checking them every hour until they seem almost dry with a bit of moisture left so they still have an orange color (they will continue to dry at room temperature). Create a tiny hole in the top of each slice with a small paring knife, and string twine through each to hang on your tree.

Sweet Lady Apples
When picking these mini apples, try to choose the ones that are 2 inches across or smaller so they’re not too bulky (or heavy) to hang from the branches of your tree. To hang: Take a piece of floral wire long enough to poke about one third of the way through the apple (or until it feels secure), and leave enough wire to hook at the top to hang on your tree.

2. 'No Kill' Christmas meal

This might sound a little avant-garde but each year we have made it a tradition in our family to have a 'no kill Christmas'. Every day countless farm animals are being killed for human consumption, but during the Holiday Season this amount doubles or even triples. We may be breaking some traditions here but each Christmas we give the pigs and turkeys a break (in fact we do it year round). To learn how to create delicious 'living' meals you can always let Chef Teton show you how with her 6 DVD healthy cooking class set.

3. Give 'life-giving' presents

We see so many throw away items being sold to us during this time of year, but do we ever wonder where these products are made and where they will end up? When you're giving gifts to friends, relatives or coworkers, be sure to consider the nature of the gift itself: Does it promote health? Was it sustainably created? Will it help create health and happiness in the life of the person you're giving it to?

...if the standard gift-giving frenzy doesn't hold much meaning for you, create your own holiday ritual:

Take a nighttime walk in nature on the winter solstice (or summer Down Under), the longest night of the year, noticing how the world looks in the darkness. Afterward, eat dinner by candlelight and think about how you can bring more light into the world.

Happy Holidays,

Laurentine ten Bosch
'Food Matters'