I'll admit it. When it comes to the holiday spirit, I give Ebanezer Scrooge a run for his money. While I love the idea of peace on earth and good will toward men, I am adamantly opposed to the commercialization and gift-giving (and receiving) pressure that December brings. Crowds send me into panic attacks faster than you can say "Mightnight Madness at the Maine Mall" and don't even get me started on the rap version of "Silent Night" I heard playing in the supermarket last week. All in all, in my world December 26th is the most wonderful day of the year.
I'm not opposed to all holidays mind you. When food plays a major role in the celebration, I am all in. Thanksgiving? Thoroughly delightful. Passover? Perfect. Even Valentine's Day is a favorite because from breakfast to dinner everything I cook is heart-shaped -- from poached eggs to meat loaf to my signature Pink Passion Cake.
Last week, about the time I started to panic about who would get what, there was what I have come to believe was a divine intervention. God, in her infinite wisdom, sent the perfect storm, a winter Nor'easter with blinding snow blowing horizontally and impossible road conditions. A snowstorm of such epic proportions that they even closed the mall!
I took the opportunity to grab a mug of tea, light a fire, and settle into the couch with my laptop. At last, a holiday shopping day that even a scrooge like me could embrace. In the peaceful quiet of a winter day, puppies asleep by my side, I finally got into the spirit of the season. Here are a few of the sites that made shopping for the perfect gift a joy.
What do I get the man who has everything? I know...a water buffalo! I mean, really. He has all the ties and books and unused exercise equipment any man could want. This year I'm showing him my love by sending love in his name, halfway around the globe. For almost 60 years Heifer International has been improving the lives of people in developing countries by helping them create sustainable sources of food and income. From a $20 flock of geese, chickens, or ducks to a $10,000 livestock development program, Heifer makes giving at any level a tangible display of the true meaning of Christmas.
Have I mentioned lately that I love my job? As Cabot's Consumer Lifestyle Commentator, I spend most of my days tweeting, blogging, and speaking about health, fitness, food, and fun. I get to lead the charge on initiatives like Cabot's Las Vegas to Vermont Virtual Challenge, a fitness trip across country for the 50+ athlete. And I represent over 1200 farm families in New England who make up the Cabot Creamery Cooperative. At this time of year, I love my job even more because I can shop on line for the perfect for just about anyone on my list -- from my mail carrier to my mother. This year's favorite? I'll be sending lots of my friends Cabot's incomparable Clothbound Cheddar, cave aged for 10 months in the cellars of Jasper Hill.
Even four-legged friends need love during the holidays. And frankly, most times I'd rather shop for dogs than people. Fetchdog.com has everything you ever wanted for your canine companion, and a few things you didn't know you couldn't live without. One of my favorites is their Starstruck Holiday Collar (pictured above on Meggy), not a full-on costume, but a fashion nod to the joy of the season.
In 1991 Jim Stott and Jonathan King, who lived in York, Maine, started selling homemade vinegars and jams at local farmers' markets. Today they have a thriving online business and nine retail stores on the east coast from Maine to Maryland. Their website is a feast for the eyes that promises an even better feast when these delicious products reach your door. Their jams, sauces, dips, and dessert toppings are nonpareil and their holiday gift baskets are the stuff dreams are made of.
So there you have it. Holiday shopping for the faint of heart. No matter how you celebrate or who you are with, I wish you all the joy of the season and peace, health, and love in the new year.