Happy Tu B'Shevat! I hope that everyone is having a lovely day celebrating the birthday of the trees. I t hoght that this year I would go a little out side the 'norm' and not talk about the traditional seder or the eating of extra fruits this year, but rather help our little ones to feel a bit more connected to the trees, mother earth, and their power to impact our world. Here are a few ideas for birthday presents for the trees:
1. CLEAN UP: This can be as easy as taking a stroll through your own neighborhood and picking up trash, or as complicated as hiking through the forest. No one wants to live somewhere dirty, and that includes the trees! Help our children think of giving the trees the birthday present of a clean piece of dirt (oxymoron anyone).
2. USE LESS WATER: Of course here in sunny SoCal we've been talking about this for months, but on the birthday of the trees it can be an important point of discussion to understand how a tree grows. Of course at the end of the day we know the answer is through G-d, but the discussion can still explain how we plant the seed in the ground, give it soil and water and sun, and how it grows to give us shade and food. Water is one of the most important things a tree needs to survive. If we use less of it in our homes on ourselves, there is more for the trees!
3. USE LESS PAPER: This is an especially important concept to introduce as children are young because the habits they form now as they are potty training and learning social manners become habits that are hard to break. It's hard for a young child to understand that paper towels and toilet paper, not to mention coloring paper, etc. all come from trees. So begin this discussion around Tu B'Shevat that each piece of paper is part of a tree. If we use less, then the trees get that many more birthdays to celebrate! Remind your child when that piece of paper isn't good enough for coloring, that it came from a tree. And remember yourself as you craft away- crafting is great if it teaches something and engages your child, but sometimes it might be better to leave the paper goods alone....
4. RECYCLE YOUR WATER: This might seem strange, but there are so many times when we are using water inefficiently. When you are waiting for the shower to warm-up or the bath. When you are doing dishes. All of these times are places where we can recycle our water. The easiest is when you wait for the bath or shower, since we haven't even used this water yet. Take it outside, let the kids water the plants with it.
If we present the ideas to our children that the trees deserve birthday gifts too, it's an easy and fun way for our children to impact the world beyond themselves.
Hope you have a fun and exciting Tu B'Shevat!
Photos Creative Commons License via Flickr 1. gfpeck 2. by karolajnat