Simplifying Another Holiday

by Kim   |   June 13, 2008

In this posting, two members of the New Dream staff share their thoughts on simplifying Father's Day.

From Kim:

An article from last holiday season came back to me on a recent June day. It was about the conflict that people who are becoming more conscious of their consumption feel about choosing gifts. There are so many non-material gift options out there; charitable giving sites have a parade of good causes to choose from, but how do our loved ones feel about getting nontraditional gifts? Is a carbon offset in the stocking any less disappointing than its converse, a lump of coal? These were the questions I struggled with last holiday season, and they come up on every gift-giving occasion, including Father's Day. Then I read an upsetting statistic that the majority of dads are unhappy with their Father's Day presents they've received and vowed to really put a lot of thought into my present this year. Not that I usually don't.

(Secretly, I love giving gifts.)

There are probably other people out there who like me, hate to shop for themselves but love scouring stores and sites for the perfect gift. Call us "closet Santas;" we want the best for our loved ones, so it's easy to splurge and throw our green aspirations out the window. Known and appreciated for our thoughtful presents, how do we make our friends family still feel cared for while caring for the earth? Family gift giving traditions did not spring up overnight nor will they change overnight. Family is all about compromise, and that didn't change with the advent of the green movement.

Since December, I've decided finding a good green gift should be pretty intuitive: it should focus on what someone already enjoys. For Mother's Day I bought my mom a home soda maker, the green version of something she likes--seltzer water. My Father's Day present will be credits to an online book exchange club. My dad reads a lot and misses the store where he used to trade in his used books.

It doesn't have to be difficult to find a good, socially conscious gift. When I lived in New York I frequented several craft fairs where it was easy and fun to support local artists and farmers while buying many memorable presents. I'm looking for more win-win situations like that, which allow me to indulge my inner Santa while giving gifts in line with my conscience.

From Tim:

Father's Day is one of those times when Dad always seems to get the same old stuff year after year. Some new golf gloves, golf balls, tools, etc. All things that actually say, "Now get out of here and go play somewhere else." Why not give dad a new kind of gift this year - your time - and spend it with him? Go online and find out what museums are free in your city. Check out a concert in a park somewhere and take a picnic. Rent some kayaks or take the bikes and get out there in the sunshine for a day of fun. And if you feel like having a great Father's Day BBQ, try this easy, delicious recipe that is sure to put a smile on dad, as well as the rest of you. It's my famous Man Burgers with Chill Summer Salad. Simple. Uncomplicated. Delicious. Enjoy!

Man Burger ingredients:

2 lbs beef (or turkey if preferred)

8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (not pressed)

1 Fresh Serrano Chile, finely chopped (Jalapeno if Serrano unavailable)

2 Tbsp Kosher salt

2 Tspn course black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil (ONLY IF USING GROUND TURKEY)

Muenster cheese slices (optional)

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Make 6 - 8 patties, depending on size preference. Grill on med-high for 4 minutes each side for med rare, 6 minutes for med, 7 minutes for well. Push meat with finger to test doneness. The firmer, the more done. Top with cheese for last minute and transfer to grilled bun.

Burger Toppings:

Chipotle Mayo (1/2 cup mayo with three minced chipotle peppers)

3 large portabello mushrooms and 1/2 sliced red onion, sauteed on med-low for 20 minutes in 1/2 stick of butter

Chill Summer Salad:

4 Avocados, cubed

2 cucumbers, chopped

3 Roma tomatoes, wedges

1 Red onion, wedges

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 Tspn Kosher salt

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 Tspn course black pepper

Mix all ingredients except the avocado. Once all ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add avocado and toss. Chill. Serve.