Turn Black Friday into green in Vail Valley | VailDaily.com
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Turn Black Friday into green in Vail Valley

Cassie Pence
Greener Pastures
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyBella Spa owner Tori Cummings uses Iike Organic Skin Care for her facials. The line not only uses pure botanical ingredients, all of their packaging is made of recycled materials.
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VAIL, Colorado – As a child, Christmas at my house was something out of the movies. There were so many gifts billowing out from underneath the tree that my mom had to start stuffing packages between the branches. And when the tree just couldn’t hold anymore (which happened every year) she would pile presents around the fireplace. And this motherload of metallic ribbon and snowflake paper didn’t even include gifts from Santa.

Our family of five kids wasn’t rich, but my mom grew up poor. When other children returned to school in new dresses and shoes after holiday break, my mom showed up wearing the same shabby threads from the year before. For my mom, Christmas is about redemption. What my mom was deprived of, she created for us … and she’s probably still paying off the credit card debt.

Ironically, looking back at the holidays, I don’t recall any specific gift. (OK, there was the time I received a golden retriever puppy named Brandy. And I clearly remember opening up a pet fart from my brother Mike.) But what I remember most are the things we did when we weren’t tearing open wrapping paper.

I remember baking at least 10 varieties of cookies and learning how to “chop” nuts using a Ziploc baggy and a rolling pin. I remember sneaking sips of my dad’s whiskey sours. I remember Scrabble games and the crying that ensued when my grandmother wouldn’t let me cheat. During the years when the rest of my siblings returned from college, I remember feeling so happy that the house was chaotic and full again.

According to a recent national survey, most of us feel the same way about holiday gifts: 3 in 4 Americans wish that holidays were less materialistic. Nearly 9 in 10 believe that holidays should be more about family and caring for others, not giving and receiving gifts.

Regardless of our true feelings, it’s hard to jump the consumer holiday train.

Today, for example, marks the official holiday shopping season, otherwise known as Black Friday. According to the National Retail Federation, last year 73.6 million people rushed to shopping malls, fought for parking spaces, rose their stress levels and depleted their bank accounts, to capitalize on retailers’ hot deals.

Gifts – whether we like it or not – are embedded in our holiday tradition. So this year, hold on to your roots but change your perspective. I challenge you to turn Black Friday into green. Give gifts with more meaning and less waste for a more sustainable holiday season. All it takes is a little creativity and an open heart. Here are some of my favorite gift ideas.

For a friend’s wedding gift, I by-passed her registry and bought the couple a private kayaking tour during their honeymoon. It’s probably something they never would have done themselves, but it created a memory that will last a lifetime. Gifts of experience are my favorite kind.

Organic facial: Tori Cummings at Bella Spa in Eagle offers an organic facial for $75 using Ilike Organic Skin Care, one of the purest, most concentrated lines available, Cummings says. Even Hollywood darling Gwyneth Paltrow uses it. The organic facial includes a deep cleanse, exfoliation, an expert skin analysis given by Cummings (who has been in the business for years), extraction and a massage of the shoulders, face, hands, arm, neck, scalp and foot. Give it to: Teenagers. Cummings treats the individual and uses the Ilike line to bring balance back into teenagers’ skin. She has several success stories. Contact: Bella Spa, 970-376-3037, located on 2nd Street in Eagle.

Yoga: Giving the union of mind, body and spirit is an invaluable life lesson. Dogma Athletica in Edwards offers a $100 yoga punch card, good for 10 classes, for first-time yogis. The studio hosts a variety of yoga styles from the sweaty, dynamic Dogma Yoga to Anusara-inspired, based on body alignment. Give it to: Stiff boyfriends. Tell him it will improve his skiing and he’ll happily adopt the practice. Contact: Dogma Athletica at 970-688-4433.

Night at the Vilar: One of the biggest assets of living in the Vail Valley is the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. The theater brings us big-city acts without the smog and skyscrapers. Buying tickets or a gift certificate to one of their winter shows is giving a quintessential valley experience. Give it to: New parents. They probably haven’t had a night out in awhile. Contact: 970-845-TIXS or visit http://www.vilarpac.org.

See vaildaily.com tomorrow for the second part of this story, which includes homemade gift ideas and local charities you could donate to in your loved ones name.

Freelance writer Cassie Pence is married to the superhero of green cleaning Captain Vacuum, AKA Tim Szurgot. Together they own Organic Housekeepers, a cleaning company that uses strictly organic, natural and nontoxic cleaning products. Look for her upcoming columns on greening the holidays Mondays in the High Life section. Contact her at cassie@organichousekeepers.com.


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