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Count your blessings while they last

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
December 16, 2005


I don't "do" Christmas. This is not because I am not a Christian, or because I have something against Christianity their desire to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. For me Christmas has always been about stuff, asking for stuff, getting stuff, giving stuff, and stuffing myself with holiday cheer to the point of satiated sedation.

To be honest I didn't adopt the Bah Humbug perspective until I lost faith, and began seriously considering the ritual consumption associated with the birth of the Baby Jesus.I fully comprehend the role of the three wise, and the symbology of giving gifts. One could even divine from the story parables about the rich giving to the poor, and recognizing greatness in the smallest of children and the humblest of beginnings.

What I don't get is how we went from a baby in a manger to Santa at Macy's, or from the Virgin Mary to Virgin Records. It really is obscene if you think about it. So far has the pious holiday drifted into secular marketplace, it seems the priests and money changers are working together to capitalize on marketing and merchandizing the holist of Hallmark holidays.

As an unabashed, tree-hugging, ecologically minded environmentalist, each passing year finds me less able to find joy amidst all the consumer chaos and ritual spending that engulfs the western world in December. It's hard to be enchanted by holiday magic when you understand the ecological cost of doing Christmas.

Parents, as you pile perfectly wrapped presents beneath the perfectly dead tree, it helps to remember most of this year's offerings will be buried in a local landfill before the end of the decade. Gifts that keep on taking, plastic playthings become toxic time bombs once discarded.

Sooner or later, toys are trash, right?

Instead of brightly colored wrapping paper, I see trees no longer standing and diminished habitats. The same goes for gift boxes, and the forest of Christmas cards dutifully sent year after year. Trying to comprehend the biological impact of Christmas consumption boggles the mind.

While I am on the subject of wasteful consumption, Christmas lighting displays are nothing, if not a vanity induced waste of energy. We dam rivers, radiate the planet with nuclear waste, and pollute the air and water resources for the pleasure of dressing up our communities like a carnival midway. A fatal distraction, the American obsession with twinkling lights could be our downfall.

The amount of natural resources squandered every year in the spirit of giving, actually diminishes what is available in the future. Paper may grows on trees, but you can't grow forests on paper. Forests, and forest species, depend on sustainable living conditions to survive. Wrapping gifts just so people can rip the wrapping to sheds in festive fervors Christmas morning, speaks volumes about the environmental disconnect permeating our corporate culture.

Wrapping paper is a waste of resources. Christmas cards are a waste of resources. Bows, bunting, and Barbies are a waste of resources. Unfortunately for future generations, the more biology we consume to properly celebrate Christmas this year, the less there will be next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

Now that Christians are reclaiming Christmas for Christ, Perhaps they will once again follow Jesus, and run the moneychangers from the temple of Christmas. Of course, that seems down right impossible, now that Christmas has been co-opted by the high priests of commerce.

The new Christ like directive being issued from the pulpits of religious retail, commanding Christians to avoid stores promoting religious intolerance with phases like Happy Holidays and Season Greetings, would have the Christ child rolling over in his manger if for no other reason than to avoid the bright lights of hypocrisy.

As a druid, this year, like every year, I will celebrate the winter solstice with family and friends with a feast of my own making. Traditionally known as Yule, the only gift expected is that of shared community and a healthy appetite. In return, I ask only for music, merriment, and a cold glass of mead in which toast my good fortune on the darkest day of the year.

This year, as every year, I'll give everyone the gift of sustainability by not giving what is not mine to give.

Merry Whatever!

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