The snow line is creep, creep, creeping down the mountainsides; the days are creep, creep, creeping toward Christmas. And if you're my mom or a regular reader of this column, you'll know that this time of year I turn into the Queen of Gifts That Disappear and Our Lady of Gifts That Support Starving Artists.
In a Christmas nutcracker kind of nutshell, that means non-durable gifts that haven't been plucked from a 5-km long factory in one of Edward Burtynsky's Manufactured Landscapes and transported in orange shipping containers 20,000 nautical miles to Vancouver from, say, Shanghai's Yangshan port — the busiest container port in the world, which mercilessly outnumbers Santa's sled each year by about 25 million to one.
Now that we've all been re-gifted to death, it's time to seriously dig into thoughtful options. After all, how many gift laps has that glass-encrusted wine stopper made, anyway? (You don't even drink wine!)
Mid- to late November is crafty heaven for all kinds of hand-made gifts stuffed with imagination and flair. For next year, put a perpetual note in your iPhone or calendar if you missed this year's flock: Pemberton Arts Council's MADE celebration and Crafty by Nature in Pemberton; Whistler Arts Council's Bizarre Bazaar; the annual Christmas Craft Fair and Squamish Nation Craft Fair in Squamish; and the big momma of all craft fairs, Circle Craft Christmas Market in Vancouver.
But a few good craft fairs are still to come. For one, the Shiny Fuzzy Muddy Show at Heritage Hall on Main Street in Vancouver, December 10–11, is a sure-fire bet for great gifts and maybe one or two cool things you can wrap up and put under the tree for yourself in case Santa gets hit by one of those massive container ships. (Pemberton's own Frances Felt, a.k.a. Frances Dickenson, is a founding member of Shiny Fuzzy Muddy.) You can also find many of the same artists online or at Etsy.com.
But if crafty items aren't your thing, how about those other gift-fairy favourites — things your giftee can eat, drink, slather over his or her bod and feel like a million bucks, or otherwise enjoy without adding another kilo to those shipping containers or landfill, or another gram of guilt to anyone's conscience.
No money? Give the gift of time — your time — and talent. Make up homemade gift certificates giving something you're good at, say, 20 hours of gardening time for someone who's plant-challenged. Kids can give hours of their digital savvy to folks adrift in computerland.
An old seasonal chestnut — the Twelve Days of Christmas — offers more inspiration.
The beauty of this timeless folk song, which came from France some 300 years ago, is that it highlights the power of two concepts that are polar opposites: multiples and singularity.