From the Editor: A Hands-On Holiday

When I was a kid, the holiday season was all about the gifts. I remember them well: baseball gloves, bikes, electronic games. As the publisher of Grid, I wish I could tell you that all of that stuff didn’t make me happy—but that would be a big fat lie. Each year, my favorite gift and I were inseparable; it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. And the sweet anticipation the night before! My siblings and I were caught in a negative loop, so eager for the next day to arrive that we couldn’t sleep, thus prolonging our waking agony.

When you become more in tune with sustainability, your relationship with stuff naturally shifts. You realize that all those gifts don’t just magically appear on store shelves—they come from somewhere, usually far away, and often by means that would make you uncomfortable. In recent years, I’ve tried to reduce the number of presents I receive (which, if you don’t express yourself carefully to your loved ones, can make you seem a sanctimonious Scrooge) while buying presents more deliberately.
While navigating the holidays may seem more challenging, they can actually offer a unique opportunity to create instead of consume. Cards made with markers and construction paper, home-cooked meals and one-of-a-kind gifts—handmade by you or a local artisan—are always more treasured. Their counterparts—store bought cards, take-out meals and mass-produced goods—will never feel as valuable.

We hope you enjoy our gift guide, which invites you to empower yourself (or others) with a skill, and to support the local community of artisans and businesses that make Philadelphia such a vibrant, fascinating city.

A special thank you to Beth Thorpe, who generously donated her time and talent to the issue. The ornaments that grace the cover are her handiwork, as are the hat, scarf and gloves I’m wearing in this picture. And she even cross-stitched the logo on the cover. Pretty cool, right?
Happy holidays, everybody!

Alex J. Mulcahy