Greener BeeGreen HolidaysSusan Dromey Heeter’s Budget Vogue: Enjoy the holidays, whether you stay or get away

Very few things make me jealous, but on occasion, that green monster rears her ugly head. One such occasion involves my sister’s upcoming Christmas vacation.

She and her husband and their two children decided to forgo all Christmas activity this year and use their time to travel to Aruba. They’ve saved their pennies all year, opted for no birthday gifts and no summer vacations in order that their Christmas will be spent on the sand, on a beach, under the sun.

I am deeply, deeply envious.

And it got my Budget Vogue self thinking of the gloriousness of forgoing the tangible parts of Christmas – the trees, the wrapping, the hanging of lights. And, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my ornaments, the caroling, the red and green of it all, but I suspect that the experience of traveling and escaping all things holiday will be lovely and will truly exemplify joy to the world and peace on earth. God knows, when I’m on a beach, under the sun, it’s all joy and the entire planet is at peace.

Alas, I’ll be in New Hampshire with my own little family, with our own celebration, with our own joy and peace. And that is pretty great. And as I think of gifts and presents, I think of the list I am creating now: While they’re no trip to Aruba, many do involve experiences, time and less tangible things than incense and myrrh.

I think of the two weeks I’ll give my daughter at Camp Bernadette in the summer; she’ll be with friends, offline, on the shore of Lake Wentworth. This is, indeed, an experience that lasts a lot longer than new socks or a sweater.

I think fondly of taking my friend, Pat, out to lunch to celebrate the holiday. Pat lost her husband a few years ago and I’ve never really spent time to talk of her loss.

We’ll travel to Harvey’s in Dover or Fogarty’s in South Berwick. We’ll laugh, and I’ll delight in her company and we’ll remember her wonderful Joe – who at 90 was still one of the sexiest men I’d ever met. Ideally, I’ll remember the lunch much more than some trinkets I might deliver to her door. Time is so much more precious than things.

Magazine subscriptions and newspaper subscriptions make great gifts; they come all year and allow friends and family so much more than Twitter updates and sound bites. I love celebrating good reporting, solid journalism, the gift of education on all current events. And, let’s face it, with our country where it is now, there’s going to be some interesting, riveting events coming up – and I want a front seat, taking in solid facts and exceptional writing. I’ll share my favorite reads as gifts – and we can all live better following more of the truth and less of the nonsense.

Finally, my Budget Vogue self adores the practicality of gifts that will be used and not donated to some thrift shop or simply thrown out. My favorite? To locals and neighbors I adore wrapping our Dover Trash Bags with red ribbon. Talk about a hit of a gift – festively green, eminently practical. It’s a show stopper.

And as your prepare for your holidays, do enjoy your Budget Vogue self with a pause, a tangible beach or simply the dream of one, some great reading and perhaps a trash bag or two – tied up in ribbon, wrapped in practicality and time.

Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. To contact her, email

LifestyleHoliday or vacationTourismTravel and commuting

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