Gifting Green on Mother’s Day

motherIt’s Mother’s Day again; May 12 for those date-challenged individuals like me, and again it is the dilemma of getting an appropriate (and highly appreciated) gift for that one person in our lives who put up with our foibles and always made sure we had clean underwear in case we had to go to the hospital – or something like that.
 
There are, I’ve decided, two types of moms: one is definitive, the other is abstract. The first knows exactly what she wants (in my case, a particular cologne or a living, potted plant). Spare me the jewelry; it just gets ruined when I’m gardening: ditto the cute little coffee table book. If I wanted cute, I would write it myself.
 
This may sound like a recipe for success, but not when you have two Alpha females in the same family, one of whom has very specific likes and dislikes, and the other one convinced she can add a bit of adventure and a broader perspective.
 
The abstract mom never knows what she wants, and will either gush over every gift she gets as though it were gold, or turn into a three-year-old at Christmas, unwrapping present after present almost too fast to really see what they are.
 
This haste is familiar to those who love her, but friends and acquaintances might see her apparent lack of discernment as carelessness, when in fact she is merely trying not to slight anyone. After all, who gets to decide the absolute (as opposed to relative) value of a handmade turtle pincushion as compared to a pair of diamond earrings?
 
But none of this analyzing helps take the fear out of the perfect Mother’s Day gift, so let’s step aside from the usual gifts and think “green”. Most moms, being Earth Mothers (aka Earth Goddesses) at heart, will be delighted that you have discovered their secret life. The turtle may be the best a beginner can ascribe to, but older siblings can graduate up to some clever DIY gifts from recycling or salvage, like an old mirror with a new/old mosaic tiled frame (both available from your nearby salvage yard or thrift store). The possibilities are endless.
 
If Mom (and Dad) still live in the same house where you were born, and the yard is big enough to keep a herd of goats, consider a yearly tree-planting festival. You and your Mom can focus on fruit trees (yum!) or ornamentals like flowering crab, cherry, weeping willow or even Amur (Japanese) maple. Of course, you’ll want to skip the goats, since that was just a measuring metric and goats eat the bark off trees! Just be sure you have a couple of acres, otherwise you will run out of space quickly. Trees take a surprising amount of room, and one per year (or more) quickly add up to an orchard or a bower.
 
Not enough yard to start planting trees? Consider an Adopt-A-Tree program. You can go international – An Olive Tree Grows in Israel – or national. In Miami-Dade township in Florida, Montgomery Orchard in Minnesota, in New York City (the Million Trees NYC Stewardship Corps Adopt-a-Tree), and about a gazillion other places where mom – now that she’s raised her family – can raise a tree by proxy. Who better?
 
If your mom still likes to cook, but is a little too elderly to keep up a vegetable garden, buy her a year’s worth of fresh vegetables and fruits from a nearly CSA farm. These Community-Supported Agricultural enterprises bring farmers in touch with local residents interested in becoming members and sharing the bounty of the earth.
 
In exchange for dues, farmers can cover the costs of farm operations, which are not insignificant. In return, members get produce, dairy or even meat delivered weekly. The payments are usually made on an annual basis, though some farmers accept monthly payments (or even weekly ones), and some even welcome members helping out a few hours on the farm each week or month. The project is usually pricey, which is a sad commentary on how far family farms have drifted from the norm of local and regional food suppliers, but we can change that with our participation!
 
You can also enlist in the Sierra Club’s program, A Piece of the Planet, which entitles you to literally buy a little bit of unsullied Nature somewhere on the globe. In exchange for payment, your Mom will get a photo of her wild place, a certificate, and a cute stuffed animal, which won’t last more than a day once Doby the dog gets hold of it!

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