At this time of year, my extended family’s calendar is full of celebrations. Birthdays, holidays, and various other events  would normally prod us to get together and exchange stories, goodwill and fun. This year, our celebrations will be mostly virtual. As a result, many of us have decided to exchange little material delights, eat an online meal together, send a handwritten note, or provide an extra-special package for those who could use a pick-me-up. If you, like us, are looking for alternative ways to create your celebrations this year, please check out some of our favorite resources, below.

Let me be clear: While many of us at CML may say that we do not enjoy “shopping,” we all adore foraging, treasure hunting, and supporting our patron’s needs to engage and escape.  So, if this blog post is insufficient or if this winter you find yourself in need of research support, don’t hesitate to call: 207 725 5242. We’re here to help.

The Gift of Time

is precious. And, especially right now, for many, it is in very short supply. If you have it, you may want to consider gifting some to others in need.

At CML we have been so impressed with our patrons helping others, even virtually. We know of many adults who have gifted their time to local nonprofits, causes, and those in need of childcare support. For example, we are aware of grandparents who have called up their local library, told us their grandchildren’s interests, and have played online with a grab-bag that our librarians put together. These can even include Explorer Kits, puzzles or Games. For the adults even more comfortable technology, we have witnesses multi-generational games of multiplayer games like Sky (where players get to hold hands and explore fantasy worlds) or sharing games of classic board games. Community team: you’re amazing!


The Gift of Food

Consumable goodies are a favorite of all of us at CML. While we may WANT to purchase every single item at our local restaurants and grocery stores, many of us have to restrict our more decedent desires to special occasions. Luckily we have many local stores that are delighted to fill our tummies. If you’re restricted to online shopping most local businesses now have pick-up options if you call and ask. The Brunswick Downtown Association has a large listing of many local eateries and grocery centers on their website, University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension’s map connects consumers directly to farm stands, and many local purveyors have come together in the Merrymeeting Kitchen online portal.


The Gift of Needed Items

While we endeavor to share ALMOST everything as a library, we do recognize that there are some safety limitations to this type of practice. For example, we don’t want to share illness, hate or apathy. And, the sharing of underwear and dangerous equipment is not practical. Thus, if you are in need of new socks and underwear, or would like some other delights, take a walk to some local shops: they’ll hook you up.

If I must look further afield than my local region, my go-to shopping portal is Green America, formally called Co-op America. It allows me to easily search for items that are special treats I can’t grow in my backyard (like mango candy) or lets me equitably support artisans who make items I have not yet learned to make (such as beautiful reed baskets etc.)

Now, of course, not all ethical material objects can be found through this one portal. Indeed, there are many shopping portals and organizations that allow you to support any number of causes. Just know that whether you’re looking for the newest cuddily stuffy or scarf – there is someone offering something wonderful out there, and if you need help treasure hunting, please don’t hesitate to call a professional. We adore the search. Please share some of your favorites with us.


The Gift of Giving

So many families and organizations around the world could use extra help this year, and, especially when hugs can’t be given, there is no better gift than giving to others. Of course, no search portal can list all fantastic giving sites, but if you think of a cause you care about, locally or afar, you can find a way to give them a donation. If you need help, give us a call and we’ll help with the search. Sometimes, you also can opt-in to receive a useful thank you item: Most of my significant others’ clothing comes from my donations to sites that then offer me a thank you gift in the form of a T-shirt. His size is usually offered, and I’m able to  both support good causes and wrap up his salty snacks in a very attractive wrapping.

Sometimes money isn’t the only request by organizations. Sometimes you can clean out your attic and give away old coats or other belongings to a good cause. For example, we use an alternative gift registry at CML to list our desired Library of Things items, so that those considering donating to organizations like Goodwill may consider giving us that rarely used item so we can share it with all. Think of us on boxing day!


Our very best wishes to you as you continue to celebrate the special moments in your and your loved ones lives.