“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from the store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”

– The Grinch, by Dr. Seuss

“​It’s a Pagan Holiday” my Dad would say disapprovingly around this season year after year as I was growing up. There were no Santa stories, elves, Christmas trees, or many presents as I recall throughout childhood.
It was a bit awkward for the grandparents begging to shower their grandkids with gifts and sweet treats.
And sugary cookies with eggnog and cream were not part of our days since sugar and dairy were not seen in our household sugar-free, vegan diet.

Music on the other hand was welcomed, encouraged and downright celebrated! Is there any holiday that has as much music dedicated to seasonal festivities as much as Christmas?

Undoubtedly it is the lyrical tunes of this beautiful season that I recall with a warm smile.

Handel’s Messiah Oratorio would ring through the house and on many occasions we would join together around the piano for Christmas carols on wintery South Dakota nights. December was filled with caroling throughout the neighborhood as we sang to our hearts content.

Oh the joys we were taught of moments to appreciate far above and beyond the gifts that come from the store. We found joy in the happiness of being together and creating the universal language of joyful celebration – music, togetherness, quality time and love.


Later in life, my Dad – still feeling deep down that Christmas was more or less made to be a worldly, commercialized (and Pagan) holiday, would concede and soften on the notion, gently mellowing with age. Christmas was eventually a holiday with gifts, a sparkling tree and sugary cookies. But not in excess. And to me, this is the foundation of the happiest of holidays that I still treasure most to this day – to celebrate with responsible choices, sustainable choices and celebrate the beauty of the season without wasteful commotion.
To nourish this in our own lives and encourage those around us to do similarly is a priceless gift to be cherished.

Before rushing out to buy unnecessary things on a long shopping list to hurriedly wrap these extraneous items in boxes, paper and all manner of wasteful decorations; please take a moment to think about holiday traditions you truly wish to savor, discontinue or adjust. We all have a choice each and every year.

Wishing a holiday filled with all the sustainable happiness your heart can hold – even for the Grinchiest!



Meet the Author

Teresa Flyger, Director of Global Brand Wellness for HIlton and GSN Board Member

With over 20 years in wellness hospitality development projects, Teresa is currently the Director of Global Brand Wellness for Hilton. With a personal focus on wholistic wellness for communities and the planet, she is proud to be a part of the GSN Board of Directors.


Want to stay up to date on GSN News & Events? Sign-up to receive our newsletter.