I no longer celebrate Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, or St. Patrick’s Day. Christmas is on the wane, and Easter (except for the bag of Cadbury mini eggs given to me that I ate guiltily, thinking about child labor) is on the chopping block this year. I haven’t deliberately cut out all these major American holidays. I’ve just lost interest. Opting out of a lot of mainstream American values has meant opting out of many of the holidays they inspired. Consider that:
- I am not Christian
- I am not sociable
- I don’t partake in conspicuous consumption
- I refuse to spend time with people I don’t like
- I don’t eat animals
- I don’t drink
- I don’t have or want kids
I wonder how many people celebrate holidays that they don’t really enjoy or find much meaning in simply because they’re expected to. It’s a ritual to spend two hours swearing at your tangled Christmas lights. You hate the smell of eggs, but you dye them anyway for Easter. You force yourself to spend Thanksgiving with the evangelical cousins who make no attempt to conceal their belief that you are a witch. (True story.) You eat too much, buy too much stuff, stress too much, only to find that you get absolutely zero out of these occasions.
Not only that, but holiday traditions, especially the newish ones, are extraordinarily wasteful. I’ve been reading all week on how to ‘green’ your Easter, from the basket to the grass, eggs, chocolate, and basket fillers. My conclusion: it’s a lot of work to turn a holiday centered around consumption into one that’s centered around [somewhat] sustainable consumption. Is it worth it? If your kids really love this holiday, or if you find it personally meaningful and need the fake grass to keep it that way, OK. But wasteful holiday traditions that you don’t even enjoy strike me as being completely pointless, especially from an environmental perspective.
Celebration (or commemoration) doesn’t require a lot of accoutrements. Get the people you love together and enjoy your time with them. Done. No plastic streamers necessary.
Or you could stay at home and play with the cat, if you’re not the celebratory sort. The point is this: tradition shouldn’t bully us into being wasteful. Or doing things we don’t want, or wanting things we don’t actually want. Making more conscious choices about how we consume and why is ultimately a big part of the lower impact equation.