The Best Present is Your Presence

After 13 years of living in the same house, my family and I recently packed up all our belongings and moved a few miles down the road to the family farm where my husband was born and raised. 

It was a bittersweet move as that was our “home” for a long time. It’s where my husband proposed to me, where all three of our children have been born and raised, and where we became a family and made many memories. 

But we are very excited and look forward to making new memories on the home place. Another thing I look forward to in our new home is having less. Yes, I said LESS. 

During the moving process it became painfully apparent that we have way too much unnecessary stuff! Old, broken, and unused toys; outgrown and tattered clothes; ugly hand me down furniture we had in college; and many other unused items. After days of purging I have vowed that I’m going to buy less. And I’m starting this Christmas season! 

I did not participate in Black Friday, nor did I partake in Cyber Monday. It is my quest this holiday season to find ways to buy less materialist items and give from the heart … and support my local rural community. 

And lucky for me there is a plethora of unique gift ideas in rural America. For example you could support a small, local farmer and give the gift of a food co-op or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership. With a one-time membership fee your gift will keep on giving. And it’s a way to support a local farmer, good food, community, and shared values. 

Supporting local artisans is another alternative. Rural areas are brimming with talented artists, and many of them sell their work. In fact the Center for Rural Affairs and Nebraska Indian Community College recently organized a Holiday Bazaar offering Native American artwork, jewelry, handmade star quilts, Pendleton blankets, baked goods and other homemade items all made nearby on the Omaha tribe reservation. Seek out similar venues in your area. Or just ask. Word of mouth is often the best way to discover a hidden gem in your community. 

Homemade or home raised gifts are other great options. I often give some of our home raised beef as gifts. And I love upcycling by taking old items and turning them into something new. In need of some ideas? Hello Pinterest! 

Donations in the name of loved ones offer unique holiday gifts. Looking for a worthy cause or an organization…look no further than the Center for Rural Affairs!  The Center stands up for rural communities, family farms and local businesses. Your donation will ensure a strong and vibrant future for rural America. 

And most importantly, consider giving the gift of your presence instead of presents. Volunteer and donate your time at the local food bank, school, library, retirement home, etc. 

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

​Feature image: From the charming website, 365 things to Do in Bastrop, Texas,