I’ve Seen the (Christmas) Light!

As a parent, we all want to provide our children with a magical Christmas filled with love and memories. We also want to see their little faces light up with wonder when they wake up Christmas morning and peek under the tree.

This year, I thought I would fail. Many things have come up in 2017 that left me short on Christmas funds and I was worried. The closer December 25th came the more I felt inadequate in giving them the holiday that my kids deserved.

A few days before Christmas I sat and wrapped the four modest gifts for each of them, with both a sense of hope and a sense of sadness. But let me tell you; less really is more.

In past years on Christmas morning they would get up and jump up and down at how full the tree looked. Overwhelmed with gifts, they would start to lose steam half way through and most of their gifts were left forgotten and buried and by the next day they were bored. They wouldn’t want to play with any of their new toys and they would start to act out and appear stressed. This always frustrated me as “Santa” who has worked hard all year to give them a fantastic Christmas.

This year was so much better. We all sat together around the tree and they opened their gifts together, and while at first they looked around for more wondering “is that it?” soon it became clear that they were so happy. Every gift was appreciated and played with for long periods of time. They got games that we could all play together and we cherished that togetherness. I was so proud of them for being happy with what they got and they were so thankful. This year I learned that kids don’t need a million things under the tree to feel excited and happy. They appreciate what they have so much more when they receive a few thoughtful gifts.

So while it may be tempting to go overboard every Christmas when you see that “one more thing” that your kids will love, it’s okay to say no. It won’t do them any harm to have less; instead it might just make this your best Christmas yet.

No Longer A “Proud Vegan”

Once upon a time there was a girl who used to shout from the rooftops. She went to protests and volunteered at farm sanctuaries and conspired elaborate plans to free animals from their torture chambers. Her favorite thing to do was to educate people on the financial, social, environmental and health benefits of being vegan.

That girl is gone. While of course I will never give up my veggie ways, I no longer consider myself to be that proud vegan. After 9 years of having to explain myself over and over again and dealing with tension in relationships and at family events, after falling away from eating healthfully and having my kids go from 100% vegan since birth to asking me to buy them bacon because they eat it every other week at their Dad’s house, I’ve lost steam. The word vegan is said with disdain and even some popular youtubers say the word with a slight twitch.

The word vegan tends to make people close off their views immediately, they get defensive, or they become filled with guilt and shame. None of these are productive for education or change. It may only be a case of semantics, but words do matter.

I am proud of many things. In 2018 it is officially 9 years since I made the change to a “plant based” lifestyle. With all of the controversy and adversary the minority faces in society I am proud of that journey. I am proud that I set up a foundation for my kids to question their own choices when they are ready and a healthy base to their diet even if it is only every other week. I will still proudly wear my farm sanctuary t-shirts in public but I have retired my vegan sweatshirt (partly because it’s a fitness one and I don’t do it the honor of being fit). I’m proud that I have made some amazing vegan connections over those years, and hold those connections close. I love so many things about who I am and the choices I have made. I will continue to be plant based and I will continue to encourage a plant based lifestyle where ever people want to learn by setting an example. While by definition I will always be vegan and I am keeping the integrity of Vegan Solace as a place for everyone in the plant based lifestyle to find comfort and relatable content.

But the term “vegan” has become a negative umbrella term that many people do not understand and don’t want to learn about. It is no longer effective outside of the vegan community when it creates people to shut down or not take me seriously. I encourage you to use whatever term fits your life and makes you feel good.

What are your experiences using different terms for being a vegan?