Having a Sustainable Christmas
Having a Sustainable Christmas
by Laura Miller
Our son was born in January. I expected him to arrive before Christmas. Those last stages in pregnancy are mostly huffing and puffing. That winter some friends and I were studying Mary's journey to Bethlehem. I had my bump held up with a large elasticated tubigrip bandage. I could not fathom how Mary coped with all the physical pressure on her body never mind the emotional stress.
The wonder of waiting for new life, whilst carrying the burden of having no known place to deliver must have been a rollercoaster in her heart.
She and Joseph travelled in trepidation. Humanity and God had entered into a partnership like no other before. The birth of Christ was not glitter and tinsel. It was birth amongst straw and dirt and animals.
Our experience of Christmas in the UK is shifting. I hear more stories of people weary from the pressure of the cost and time involved in celebrating. Families face the contrast between the pristine image of the 'perfect' day and the rising level of poverty, homelessness, war and disaster.
What can we do to not only restore the hope of Christ's birth, and deal with the need to make Christmas less costly to the planet? Is it possible to shift towards a more sustainable Christmas?
When I was researching this blog I hit various internal road blocks. If I changed the way I bought gifts for example, would I cause offence? If I made my own gifts, would it be embarrassing to share them?
Could I make changes that were both ecologically kinder and more affordable?
I already avoid much of the hustle and bustle by shopping online. Hopefully some of my findings are transferable to shopping in person.
I found it really helpful to go to my favourite websites and put words like 'ecological', 'sustainable', or 'compostable' in the search engine and see what was possible.
This year I chose gifts from charities that are either new or pre-loved. My favourite find was of gift cards that showed I'd bought the recipient a tree that had been planted for them.
My garden provided inspiration too. I had saved a large number of nasturtium seeds and dried them. The gnarly seeds were put into up-cycled containers I had decorated. Next year they will blossom, like miniature suns!
As a renowned messy wrapper of gifts my adherence to using old wrapping paper, saved gift bags and even empty pillow cases makes it easy to embrace up-cycling principles. Laura Digan shared times of using magazine pages to wrap her gifts, and specialises in DIY wrapping paper.
In preparation for tighter budgets, our close family agreed in advance to spending less as a whole. Those conversations can be tense. Perhaps though, now we need to be more honest with each other. Christ arrived in poverty. What must He make of people weeping in January as they face debts accrued the month before?.
It is time to be a source of light and lead the way. Give from only what you have. Offer gifts that benefit a wider purpose. Keep love at the centre of celebrating Mary's baby.