During the "most wonderful time of the year," unofficial tradition calls for us to let a lot of things go. The sudden mass production of cute, sugary goodies causes even the stingiest of waistlines to indulge in a few extra calories. We trade in our favorite, varied music for a month of the same holly jolly songs accompanied by the rhythm of sleigh bells we've heard since we were in the womb. We entertain family members we haven't seen in months or years (whether we'd like to or not).
As I was looking for something to write for this December environmental-themed post, I began to pay attention to all the things that come around only after November. My hometown is famous for its Winter Wonderland of Lights, a delightful tour of different light displays that are set up around our park. Though we are a small town, folks from even an hour or two away make a special trip to tour the nearly 800,000 lights. I bundle up at least once a year with a hot cup of tea or cider in one gloved hand, flanked by good friends to take the chilly one-mile night stroll. As I was taking the second of this year's trips, I thought about how much electricity the city was using to power the lights. I thought about the gallons of fuel people used to get down there. I thought about all the cardboard used in the manufacturing of the cup that held my cinnamon tea.
And I smiled. I looked at all the people I was passing. They were smiling, too, laughing with friends or having warm conversations through chilly lips with old loved ones.
So any eco-mogul can berate me about my love of a season that brings about millions of sheets of colored paper, billions of lights and high heating bills. However, I have my priorities. Close to my heart is the perpetuation of our earth and its resources. Closer to my heart are my family and friends. I cherish this time of year for the chill it brings to our faces and the warmth in which it covers our hearts. Certainly, I do my best to reduce my carbon footprint in the winter by turning off my heater when I leave my room or drinking hot beverages from a travel mug rather than the cardboard commercial ones. These are good habits that I've come to do naturally through my practice year-round.
My environmental statement for December will be made by leaving everyone whom I encounter a little better than when I first saw them. Acts of good will certainly benefit the earth, and are certainly needed just as much as, if not more than, acts of recycling.