The Best Xmas Gift is the One You Grew Yourself – Merry Christmas!

I was going to create a YouTube video to thank my subscribers for their wonderful and generous support over 2021 but I thought that this year I would write a short article on Christmas Eve instead.

Pickled cucumbers, sundried tomatoes, sauerkraut

I’ll be 53 early next year and I often (during a quiet pondering moment) think about how I’m now on the other side of middle-age, how quickly those years have seemingly gone by, and do I have enough time left to fulfil my goals? Does it matter?

But when I try to recall all the highlights (and lowlights) from as far back as I can remember, about age 5 or 6, I realise what a long and wonderful experience life has been for me so far.

Many have written and spoken about the meaning of life. Personally, I reckon life is about jamming in as many experiences as possible savouring the good ones and not dwelling on the bad but rather learning from them.

I also think that as we age we grow into life and we also grow through stages of maturity about every decade.

For example, when I was in my mid-20’s I remember feeling old as a corporal/sergeant in the Army touring overseas, leading and training younger soldiers – that’s a lot of responsibility. However, in my 30’s I remember looking back and thinking how immature I was during those times and then in my 40’s I had already left the military several years earlier (after a long 21-year career) and suddenly I was back to feeling old again. Mid-life crisis perhaps?

Fast forward more than a decade, and astonishingly I’ve been a home-dad and YouTuber/content creator for 11 years – I can hardly believe it! My body has more aches and pains than an old heavyweight’s boxers rib cage but my mind now feels so much younger… It’s like turning 50 has given my mind a new lease on life that my body can’t come to terms with.

Anyway, where am I going with this?

In my opinion, LIFE is about growing. We grow in the womb, we grow into a teen, we grow into an adult, we grow in maturity, we grow in experience, we grow in faith, we grow old, we grow in so many different ways but we never stop growing.

That’s why I think that a gift you grew and/or at least made (in some way) yourself is the best Christmas gift you can give because it symbolises life and how valuable it is to all living beings.

Moving away slightly from the philosophical, something that you grow and make might not be expensive in monetary terms, however, this gift takes time and effort and therefore is extra special. You might say, well, so does shopping in a busy mall on Christmas Eve and to an extent that’s also true. It’s difficult to not be impressed with a gift that may not have been grown or made by the gifter but still was hard-sort, thoughtful, and cost an arm to buy.

Nevertheless, my point is, an exceptional and gratifying gift to give and receive needn’t break the bank. In fact, a gift grown and made (or just grown and given) is rich in love, means a whole lot to both parties, and that’s mainly what Christmas is about.

Bringing your own home-grown food or treats to Christmas as gifts or for lunch is also an interesting talking point or ice-breaker as we all know family get-togethers can take a while to “warm-up” at times and sometimes these occasions can cool down just as quickly. Therefore, props such as your Italian style preserved sundried tomatoes in olive oil with garlic and basil might just turn into a Godsend of a conversation changer when old Uncle Nevil starts talking politics again after he’s had one too many.

There is a neverending list of gifts you can make from produce you have grown in your own backyard. A box of mixed fruit, vegetables, and herbs is one of the simplest yet satisfying gifts to receive. Organically grown, tendered with care, harvested on point of freshness, a box of goodies straight from the home garden shared with others is a generous present.

Preserves like jams/jellies and pickles are true favourites for gifting and are very easy to make plus these foods are generally safe to eat and store for longer periods without the fear of a poisoned Christmas gift or feast – it must have been the salmon…

Over the last 3 months, I have been experimenting with freeze-drying using our new Harvest Right Freeze Dryer. This Christmas lunch (tomorrow), I’ll be taking along some new treats to try on the extended family such as freeze-dried sweet tree-ripened organic lady finger bananas, strawberries, pineapple, sliced cucumbers, and even green radish seed pods!

I’ve only just begun my journey into freeze-dried food and already we (as a family) can’t get enough of it because it’s not only a great way to preserve food it can also be a way to dynamically change the texture and taste to make home-grown produce “different but good” giving us more options for healthy snacks and gifts.

Honestly, I truly believe the best Christmas gift is the one you grew yourself and I just love giving and receiving them myself.

Other things I wanted to mention in this post

2021 has been a big year for me and my guess is, it has been a big year for you also.

Besides normal life, we’ve all had to deal with the overhanging not so little elephant in the room called Covid, which has made life anything but normal.

Some people have adapted well and some have found it extremely difficult with the majority tolerating all the restrictions and issues as best as they can.

Without getting into social politics, I expect that the virus and its variants will gradually become history because I have faith that good people and humanity as a whole will eventually overcome it.

Try not to overconsume doomsday news and social media hysteria as no good comes from it and if it ever is true, one unlikely day, it won’t matter anyway.

However, in the meantime, I do suggest “getting into it” gardening and the outdoors/nature whenever you can because believe me this does help tremendously to keep the body, mind, and soul healthy as possible.

Professionally, I’ve had a massive year. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get everything done that I wanted to do. I’m quickly finding out that struggling to meet goals and expectations is often the case in business.

From a content creator’s point of view, I would have liked to upload more videos to YouTube and write more articles on this blog over the past 12 months but it wasn’t to be due to… things. Sometimes, we just don’t have the time in the day to complete everything we want and I try not to beat myself up over this reality.

A large part of the extra work behind the scenes was due to a Company we started called Valencia Media Pty Ltd. This business was born more out of necessity rather than ambition and without boring you with the details essentially Valencia Media makes it easier for us to group the different media entities we have now and in the future under one banner.

Next year, my son James will be working for us fresh out of school. His intent is to work on Self Suffishing Me (our fishing channel) and help me develop it over the next 12 months before starting his film and media degree.

At this stage, James is keen to work for our Company and although I’m careful not to force anything I’m looking forward to the extra hand and also the possibility of new ideas to improve our content overall.

Furthermore, I have made several big decisions and changes to outsourcing “business stuff” that should finally free me up more to do what I love and that’s content creation (making videos and posting articles and images).

With the success of my YouTube Channel came the inevitable business bureaucratic swamp and for too long I have been somewhat in the dark battling it as best as I could on my own at the expense of content creation. Well, hopefully, that’s now history and 2022 will be the year of more content creation than ever from Self Sufficient Me and our other brands.

And that’s about it for now… Thanks again for your support I can’t explain in words how much it means to me and my family.

From Nina, myself, and our two Boys, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Let’s get into it together in 2022, Look, and see the Earth through her eyes, and just be self-sufficient in something.

Cheers, Mark


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