Giving Ourselves As A Gift During The Holidays, by Sarah Latimer

The Judeo-Christian community is celebrating Christmas and/or Hanukkah this week and getting ready to bring in the new year 2017. Many people are off work and spending the week with family and friends. Some of you may be traveling, and some of you are at home. Many are not alone, but some of you are. No matter where you find yourselves and whether you are alone or not, you have something of value to give during these holidays– yourself, time, and knowledge, and in sharing these you can practice a little prepping for the future, too.

I have a few ideas to get your own ideas flowing on how you might go about this, but each of you has your own talents, your own circumstances, and available resources. You know your family, friends, and community; I don’t. Just let this be a launching pad from which you begin to brainstorm your own ideas, share your abilities, and build on them as a family/group. If you’ve been reading SurvivalBlog for a while now, you have some good basic knowledge of preparedness that is valuable to share with family and friends. If you are alone and thinking about what it might be like to live in TEOTWAWKI and lose access to the outside world, there are probably some folks living not far from you who have experienced that in their own lives– those who are in the nursing home without anyone to visit them. They’ve lost their home and contact with the outside world for the most part. The difference between them and what we hope for is that they are not self sufficient, but they are in a cooperative community that meets their basic needs. Still, there are many who feel isolated and forgotten and really need a friendly smile from someone in the outside world. While practicing some of your homesteading skills, like making homemade lip balm or baking cookies with freshly ground wheat, maybe you could take some of these to the nursing home to some of the folks there who have gone through the holidays without any visitors. While there, ask the staff if there are any clear-minded residents who are story-tellers of the Great Depression or WWII days. You just might learn a thing or two if you spend time listening for awhile. These folks, especially those who are near centenarians, have a wealth of information as they have survived the Great Depression, WWII, and much more. Some of it might apply to you for the future.

Feel free to write in and share what you did. We’d enjoy bringing in the new year with a few short letters of how you shared yourself and your knowledge with others to make this world better and in doing so also improved yourself. We’d enjoy reading about what you learned from an interesting old timer at the nursing/retirement home, too!

Weapons Use and Cleaning Practice

While grown children, their spouses, and children are visiting, it is a good time to help them become more comfortable handling and caring for weapons. Or if you have children in your home, take some time to teach/practice gun safety. Also, teach and practice appropriate shooting skills, and get out the Hoppe’s to teach them how to clean guns. If you use bows and knives, practice with these, too. Maybe set up a course and walk them through some scenarios and strategies. Basically, you want to use this time to help any family members who might be afraid of using weapons to become more comfortable with them and others to become more proficient, whatever that means. Throughout our extended family, the level of comfort with weapons runs the gammit. Most of the men are quite comfortable and proficient with them; some are experts and equipped to train others to shoot, but some of the women and girls are reluctant to actually shoot. So, in our case, we need to practice with the women every opportunity we get. I tell the women that while the men may be the first line of defense, if they get hurt, we had better be ready to pick up arms and defend our families! We also need to know how to use quiet weapons too, so archery and knife skills are useful. I was throwing knives during early elementary school age and shooting Daddy’s bow, too. You must decide what is appropriate for the individuals in your family, depending upon age and maturity and so forth, but youngsters learn respect and can develop skill, too. I’ve known some very young, even pre-teen, boys who helped feed their families during hard times in recent years with elk and deer they shot themselves. It’s not just about self defense, and that leads to the next idea.

Go Fishing

It may be ice fishing at this time of year where you live and you may not be able to do it for long, but practice the skill of fishing and teach the younger generations how to do it also. Like everything else, it is a skill that requires practice, and when the SHTF it will be necessary to know these skills then. Of course, when it is TEOTWAWKI, we cannot count on wild life to sustain our families long term, but in the short term we need to know how to fish, hunt, and forage, as we may need to bugout and do so during winter. Just be sure to dress appropriately and use precautions to keep from falling into dangerous, icy waters. Take a thermos of coffee and another of hot chocolate and make it as pleasant of an outing as possible. There is no need to make it a miserable situation. Make it a fun adventure, so take plenty of yummy snacks and warm clothing, hand warmers, and be willing to head home if it becomes unpleasant! Stretch the family members’ abilities, just as you do a muscle, but don’t push so much that it is painful and they won’t want to join on one of your excursions again. That’s like spraining the muscle of preparedness-learning rather than just exercising it, and you don’t want to do that. So, keep it light hearted and fun!

Building Something Creative

Our family has been working on some artwork that will serve as a centerpiece for our holiday table. We’ve had to work together and also independently, in our various areas of expertise, to weld, hammer, cut fabric, paint, staple, and so forth to build this creation made of copper, wood, glass, and fabric. Maybe you’d like to build a bird house, a wall lamp holder, or some other small project during this week at home and do so with a young family member or friend while teaching them some basic carpentry skills and how to use hand tools.

Review Your Medical/First Aid Supplies

The end of the year is a good time to evaluate what needs to be replaced to find out what might be expiring or has already expired and needs replacing. (We know that when many medications are stored in airtight containers in cool, dry environments they often last longer than their expirations, but there is a limit, and some medications are dangerous past their expirations. It is necessary to review and replace any that might be hazardous or ineffective. SurvivalBlog has some excellent articles by medical professionals to assist you with what medications must be replaced upon the expiration date and which ones can go longer under ideal conditions.

It’s also a good idea to review with family members how to use your CAT tourniquets, Israeli bandages, and other pieces of first aid equipment from time to time. This might be an excellent time for this review and practice. When the life-threatening emergency occurs, it isn’t the best time to get out the instructions, look up the instructional article, or search for a youtube tutorial!

Make Some Homemade Lip Balm

The air is dry and our lips chap easily, so why not make your own natural lip balm? Just order empty 5 ml lip balm containers and any of the basic ingredients listed below that you don’t have on hand. If you have an Amazon Prime membership and purchase items that are available through Prime, you’ll likely have the supplies by Thursday and can have several dozen lip balms made before New Year’s Eve.

I’ve learned to make these thanks to Aromahead Institute. To make them, just take a four cup Pyrex measuring cup and put it inside a 2-quart saucepan filled with about one inch of water to create a double boiler. (Don’t let the water rise more than about two inches up the side of the Pyrex cup, as you do not want water to boil inside your Pyrex bowl!) Using a kitchen scale, weigh out one ounce each of beeswax and jojoba oil (or sunflower oil, but jojoba oil is more nourishing) into separate dishes. Then, weigh out 1.5 ounces of cold pressed, extra virgin coconut oil and half an ounce of shea butter, also into separate dishes. Add the beeswax and coconut oil to your pyrex bowl and turn the heat on your pan of water. Stir the beeswax and coconut oil until it is melted. Then, turn the heat off and add the jojoba oil, stirring thoroughly. Remove the pan from the heat surface and add the shea butter, stirring until it has completely melted. Then, add 120 drops (about 5 mLs) of Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis), as Aromahead Institute instructs. Or, you can make my immune support version with 30 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 30 drops of peppermint essential oil 20 drops of rosemary essential oil, 20 drops of tea tree essential oil, and 20 drops of oregano essential oil. Be sure to use high quality essential oils. Organic, therapeutic quality is the best, from my experience.

Make Some Candles or Repurpose Used Taper Candles in Half Gallon Jars You Decorate (For Emergency Lighting)

We enjoy entertaining and usually have people over at least once a week for dinner. At these dinner and sometimes just with family, we use taper candles on our dining table. I enjoy making candles, but eventually they burn down to where they are only a few inches tall. At this point they don’t look very nice, and I feel I need to replace them; however, I hate to throw all of that useful wax away. I’m happy to report that I’ve found a good way to use them, other than melting them down for making more candles. I think I may have mentioned this before, but there are pretty candle holders that will hold those short little tapers in half gallon or quart size Mason jars for emergency lighting in a portable and safe manner when the power fails. In the half gallon jars, they don’t get hot and provide a good deal of light that can be carried without risk of wax dripping onto someone or ruining clothing or carpet. These hangers could be made with wire, too, at home.

Also, the jars you are going to carry the candles in can be decorated. This is a perfect project for the little ones you might have with you. Get some rhinestones or beads to glue on or maybe simply draw with permanent markers to decorate the jars a bit. You’ll create pretty, colored emergency lamps. (Just help hold or secure those glass jars so they don’t get broken and hurt little ones.)

Then, when you have finished teaching and practicing some of what you know, think how you can share some of that with others who are alone. Is there an orphanage or nursing home near you that could benefit? Reach out and touch the lives of others. In giving your time and maybe a little gift, you may find you get a very meaningful gift– love or at least smiles, from a new friend.