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As it blooms into love, however, Daniel learns some shocking news: he is terminally ill with Lou Gherig's Disease.

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Daniel recalls the nickname his mother gave him, when the family was living as missionaries in South America. She explains her motivation in her author's biography page for Amazon:. Growing up on a small farm in Wayland, Michigan was a surreal experience; our excitement consisted of such things as riding a bow-legged cow named Raisin, sitting in the crow's nest of a magic apple tree and reading comic books, or building leaf forts and Koolaid-Machines. Wading in Rabbit River was a perfect way to get leeches stuck between your toes, and pouring salt on them was about the only way to get the nasties off your skin without damage.

Then there was crawling through the muck fields, picking potato bugs off of dad's crop chemicals were too toxic and plopping the bugs in cans of gasoline. That's when the writing bug really started, and continues to this day. Our magic apple tree sniff is long gone, as well as the potato bugs yay -- but stories fill my head nonetheless. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy. If you're determined to give material gifts, there are a whole range of ideas that can be eco-friendly. There is a handy list of ethical gift ideas at www.

Stocking-fillers can also be eco-friendly.


Buying a book token instead of a book ensures that they will get the book they really want instead of another tome gathering dust unread. If you have a deep-greenie friend, instead of the ubiquitous Moulinex, you could buy the latest soya-milk maker from www. With this they will be able to make home-made milk from organic soya beans or oat-groats at less than one tenth of the price that it costs in the shops. It will eliminate a lifetime's mountain of the dreaded Tetra Paks, which will win any greenie's heart!

If you want to make them even happier, though, a set of luxury organic bedsheets will help them to love you every time they snuggle down. The production of cotton is one of the planets most poisonous processes, accounting for more than 25 per cent of all poisonous pesticides used worldwide. Creating a market for these at Christmas is a really rewarding thing to do.

They can be easily procured from www.

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For children, the perfect CO 2 -friendly gift is a bicycle. Getting young people into the habit of cycling is one of the greatest Christmas gifts you can give them and the planet. This is a gift that will help them to remain healthy for life.

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The British Medical Association estimates that people who cycle have hearts that are up to 10 years younger than those who do not do regular exercise. Your Christmas gift could also help to cut your own year-round emissions if you get your children to cycle to school instead of being driven. The other perfect gift for children that will help to reduce CO 2 emissions is an iPod. As it does away with the need for CDs and tapes, it is the perfect, almost resource-free method of recording hundreds of titles and, of course, it also fulfils the really important criterion of being cool.

After Christmas trees, the next biggest Yuletide tree issue is the acres and acres of wrapping paper that litter our living rooms after the frenzy of gift opening. More than 8, tons of wrapping paper will be used this Christmas, which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates is enough to wrap the entire island of Guernsey. This involves the felling of more than 40, trees. There are lots of ways you can reduce the masses of emissions resulting from this modern fad.

First of all, ask yourself whether your gift really needs wrapping, or would a little card attached to it suffice? One of my friends wraps her presents in pages from the newspaper. She carefully chooses which section or page is appropriate for each particular friend, using sports, arts or political pages. Thus she eliminates all carbon emissions resulting from her wrapping but gets the bonus of it being more personal than mass-produced wrapping paper.

If you feel that you have to have commercial wrapping paper, avoid at all costs the hugely polluting glittery wrappings. The best option is to use wrapping paper made from recycled paper, which is available from www. Do not forget to open wrapped gifts carefully, so you can reuse the paper, or if torn ensure that the paper gets recycled. Even the tape used to seal your gifts is important. Sellotape is made from benign plant cellulose, whereas most other tapes are fossil-fuel and chemical-based. Finally, let us not forget the post-Christmas clean-up.

We consume far more bottles, cans and paper at Christmas than at any other time of year, with more than three million extra tons of waste hitting our refuse sacks. Our bins overflow with an extra million bottles and million drinks cans. Therefore, it is crucial that all this gets recycled, if we are to slash our Christmas CO 2 emissions. About 80, tons of old clothes also get thrown out every Christmas, as we renew our wardrobes.

Charity shops love good-quality cast-offs, and council recycling points often collect all forms of old clothes, shoes and used cloth; similarly with unwanted presents. One person's horror of a present is another's dream find, so after Christmas make sure to do a good spring clean and take unwanted presents down to your local charity shop. If you implement everything on these pages, you will still have a fun and festive time, but will also have a clear conscience knowing that you are slashing your CO 2 emissions by more than 80 per cent.

After all, would not Jesus Christ, whose birth Christians celebrate on this day, be horrified that the celebrations of his birthday created future climate chaos for our fellow human beings? This turmoil is leaving millions of people homeless, starving and poverty stricken, as desertification, flooding and crop destruction is intensified. Instead of contributing to a deepening global crisis, would it not be a wonderful thing to know that your celebrations were contributing towards making it better?

Now, that would be a truly festive Christmas. For Christmas, I'm going to be giving books. Books change lives. And we need to change some lives if we are going to pull ourselves out of this mess. Grab a second hand book locally or hit Amazon. Pick something that relates to the giftee's world. Write a nice note inside don't be preachy.

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Stand back and see what happens. A typical UK Christmas dinner, which often includes Australian wine, American cranberry sauce, South African carrots, Dutch Brussels sprouts and Israeli potatoes, may have travelled 30, miles from producers and growers, generating more than 20 million tons of CO2, according to research carried out by MEPs.

These so-called "food miles" can be easily slashed. Instead of buying New Zealand apples or Cypriot potatoes, buy locally grown produce. Local farmers' markets sell a range of locally grown food - and they are far more fun to visit than battling the hordes in a monolithic Yuletide Tesco. If you have to go to a supermarket, choose any locally grown vegetables and fruit it offers. Reduce "wine miles" by buying English organic wines - local organic wineries are listed at the Soil Association's website www. Pesticide has to be extracted from drinking water, too - a process that costs UK consumers millions of pounds a year.

As well as cutting down on food and wine miles, you can also reduce the trail of poisons left after your festivities, by buying organic food. Recent surveys have shown that three-quarters of UK families buy organic food regularly or occasionally. Why not buy a turkey that has been reared under environmentally friendly and cruelty-free conditions? Wild turkeys can fly more than 50mph and are naturally docile; factory-farmed turkeys can't fly and, cooped up with almost 25, of their fellow animals in darkened sheds, must have their beaks sliced off to prevent damage caused by aggressive behaviour.

These creatures are so fat that they cannot mate naturally - the bloated breast prevents natural copulation and the unnatural weight destroys hip joints. There are lots of delicious alternatives. If you can't buy a cruelty- and antibiotic-free organic turkey at your local farmers' market, the Soil Association website has a list of local suppliers nationwide.

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The organisation Viva Vegetarians International Voice for Animals campaigns against cruelty to farm animals and it has a range of recipes for an ethical Christmas lunch on its website www. The vegan recipe described below is a real festive treat that beats the standby veggie lasagne hands down. Slice mushrooms and quarter artichoke hearts. Fry shallots and garlic gently in margarine until softened. Add all mushrooms except oyster mushrooms if used.

Add oyster mushrooms, artichoke hearts and Madeira. Add flour, salt and pepper, stir. Add 'soya cream' and chopped chives and cook until thickened. On a floured surface, roll out half the pastry thinly and trim to 38x20cm 18x15in. Keep the trimmings.

Place on large baking sheet and prick with fork. Cool on a wire rack. Roll out remaining pastry thinly.

Return cooked pastry to baking sheet and pile filling on top. Brush pastry edge with soya milk and place over filling to enclose. Trim off excess leaving about 2. Use trimmings to decorate with a fine lattice of pastry strips. Brush with soya milk, make two small holes in pastry to allow steam to escape.