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Giving Back to Nature During the Holidays

‘Tis the season for… presents, lights, and music? While the holidays may bring all those things, I want to teach my children that it’s so much more than that. Before bringing out the gift wishlist and holiday decor, I asked my kids to think about what we can do to show love and care for others this season, including things in nature.

In the movie “A Nature Carol,” Nature Cat is so excited about decorating the forest with lights, playing loud music for all to hear, and opening a big pile of presents under the tree. But instead of spreading joy, his friends and surrounding critters start to feel frustrated and overlooked. He gets a bit of the Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” experience on Christmas Eve with visits from spirits who show him nature past, nature present, and nature future.

Exploring the great outdoors

With the spirit of the past, Nature Cat sees himself as Nature Kitten exchanging simple gifts with love and enthusiasm, including a “nature curiosity list” full of fun things to explore with his friends. On his list were:

  • Find out where a stream begins
  • Explore the top of a mountain
  • Dig deep into the earth and see what’s there


They make plans to add more to the list, but talk about how easy it can be. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with how to best pass on a love of nature to my children, but it can be as simple as a walk around the block to greet whatever nature we meet. I love the song Nature Kitten sings to “say hello to nature, because it’s everywhere.” Together as a family, we can point out the colors of the trees, the birds we hear, and anything we notice that’s new for the day, like the clouds or a passing bug.

Being in nature is beneficial to us

When visited by the spirit of the present, Nature Cat sees how a family of mice are grateful for what they have and give each other homemade gifts instead of getting everything from the store. While with the spirit of the future, Nature Cat sees how his focus on getting more gifts and decor meant he stopped caring about the things that really mattered to him. He was missing out on spending time with his friends, protecting nature, and having the Christmas spirit of sharing and caring.

There are a lot of ways we can care for nature, and a big way to encourage that is by spending time outdoors. Research shows that the best way to foster environmentalism in kids as they grow into adults is by having wild nature activities before the age of 11 with things like hiking, fishing, or camping. When we spend time outdoors, not only are we caring for nature, but there are also big benefits to our own wellbeing. Studies from the Nature Wildlife Foundation found that kids playing in dirt promotes healthy bacteria while reducing stress and anxiety; outdoor play develops healthy, active bodies and critical thinking skills; and time outside during the day even helps get a better night’s sleep.

Try these activities to give back to nature!

We came up with this list of things to do to better appreciate and give back to nature this holiday season:

  1. Say hello to nature during a walk outside
  2. Rake leaves to protect the grass before the winter sets in
  3. Decorate with recycled objects like this holiday wreath made out of plastic bags
  4. Visit a nearby state park during the winter break
  5. Create gifts for others using elements from nature like these picture frames or nature art
  6. Clean up trash at the park
  7. Make pine cone bird feeders to hang for the birds
  8. Care for pets and houseplants to keep them alive and well
  9. Go birdwatching with binoculars and a bird journal
  10. Assemble a wild bee hotel to have ready for the spring
  11. Learn more about nature with books from the library
  12. Plant tulip bulbs in the garden to prepare for the spring
  13. Keep a journal or use the Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors app to log sounds and nature adventures
  14. Research what seeds to plant once it’s warmer
  15. Use some of our sharing jar to sponsor an animal in the wild
  16. Go camping to experience the outdoors overnight

Like Nature Cat and his nature curiosity list, we plan to keep adding to the list. There is always something new to explore in nature and ways to give back!

-Samantha Gratton