Since I live in a small town with no home mail delivery, I receive mail via a box at the local post office.

At this time of year, when Floppy Ears dons her festive red coat and we take our daily walk to the post office, that box is stuffed with glossy catalogues, flyers and other brochures featuring “holiday gifts.”

The season of giving is also a season of “buying” which isn’t new but, with rapidly rising costs of living, is extra hard for many people this year.

One of the things I value about my small-town life, and write about in my books, is being part of an inter-connected community.

Some of those bonds are fostered online via groups sharing local news and events, recommendations for tradespeople or alerts when coyotes are spotted on nearby walking trails.

I recently discovered one such online community dedicated to “giving” and “buy nothing,” a smaller, more personal version of the better-known Freecycle Network™.

In this local Facebook group, members “look for” or post items to “gift.” In the past weeks, I’ve spotted everything from clothing, baby and toddler toys and equipment, crockery and holiday decorations to the more unusual like thirteen vintage telephones and a model of the famous British ship, HMS Victory.

I’ve “gifted” items and benefitted from “gifts” too including a cute teddy bear (now named Cyril) who sits on my front porch dispensing holiday cheer, a kettle for Tech Guy’s home office and framed print by a favourite Canadian Indigenous artist.

What’s extra special about this group is how it exemplifies the true spirit of giving all year, not only during the holidays.

A member posted about needing a crib for a mother who’d left an abusive relationship. In minutes, others responded with not only the asked-for baby bed but offers of additional household items that might be useful too.

Other posts focus on essentials people need but can’t currently afford. A haircut, winter snow-clearing, toddler pyjamas, a sofa, toaster oven and more have all been exchanged.

Community members also collect items for local fundraisers and to donate to schools, childcare centres and charitable organizations.

And during what’s currently an unprecedented wave of children battling cold, flu and RSV, and shortage of children’s cold and flu medication here, available stock is shared between families with sick little ones.

Despite the influx of holiday advertising in my mailbox, my “giving and buy nothing” group is another daily reminder of the true meaning of this season. Or, as in “The GoKart,” a recent alternative Christmas advertisement from the UK, how “Christmas is made, not bought.”

No matter what you celebrate, whether Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or no special festival at all…Happy holidays!

Watch Sam Teale’s film, “The GoKart,” here.

I’m taking a holiday season break from blogging but will return in January 2023.



  1. Elizabeth Waldman

    Dear Jen, It’s Liz in Kingston, originally from Winnipeg and wanted to wish you a happy holiday. We start to celebrate Hanukkah this coming Sunday night, eating latkes and sufganiot (jelly donuts) and we make gifts or have a spending limit of no more than ten dollars.Getting together and cooking is all we need and sharing is all we need. It bothers me to see shows like Cityline and Marilyn doing all these giveaway days of stuff people don’t need and that is not what the holidays are about. There are people in need who should be helped and that should be the focus. Get back to the basics and spending time with our family and friends. I hope to have some big news in the new year about a project we are working on for 2023.??‍♀️❤️ Happy Holidays Jen to you and your family.?

    • Jen Gilroy

      Hello, Liz, I wish you and your family a happy holiday season in return. I hope you’re enjoying your Hanukkah celebrations. I enjoyed hearing about how you mark this special time. Like you, this season isn’t about “stuff” for me but rather time with family and friends. I’m looking forward to news of your 2023 project when you can share. With thanks again for your good wishes and supporting my blog.

  2. Rosey Lee

    Great read! I like the idea of a “giving and buy nothing” group. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Rosey. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and appreciate you reading and commenting. Perhaps you can find a “giving and buy nothing group” in your area too.

  3. Lydia

    Enjoy your blogging break!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Lydia. Happy holidays!


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