As a non-exuberant, non-religious, non-sociable sort of person, I don’t really do holidays. As always, not doing anything is agreeably low impact. I cringe at the thought of chopping down a perfectly good tree just to prop it up in my house for a month, and I don’t need the symbolism of a fake tree, so I don’t have a Christmas tree. I can’t be bothered to decorate, so I don’t have lights, ornaments, statues, or vaguely sinister inflatable Santas. I don’t like my relatives, so I don’t travel to see them. I hate malls, so presents tend to be locally handmade (ideal) and selectively given.
But then there’s my not-s0-secret giftwrap obsession. I love paper, always have. I grew up buried in books, went through prolonged origami and stationery phases, and still rhapsodize over the buttery softness of cotton fibre laid paper. Even knowing the environmental impact, I look forward to the new crop of giftwrap every year. I’m picky and rarely get more than two rolls a year, but over the years, I’ve accumulated more than my fair share of vintage-y penguins, elegant deer, woodland animals, swirly motifs, and wintry botanical prints.
Rhonda at Good Green Witch ranted about the wastefulness of wrapping paper earlier this week. She’s absolutely right that wrapping paper is a stupid expenditure of resources. My rational side won’t attempt to deny it. But getting that roll or two every December makes me happy — I really love good design, and being able to afford and make use of good design is even better. And wrapping presents makes me happy. My old origami habits kick in, and soon I’m making elaborate pleat folds around the top of a cylinder, pinching crisp mitred corners, tucking, angling, valley-folding — until I have a small pile of tidy, even artsy, wrapped parcels. It’s surprisingly meditative and calming.
It’s not a green habit, but I’ve tried to make it less…brown. Large pieces of wrapping paper get saved and reused the following year. Everything is either 100% recyclable or recycled. And as I’ve said, I don’t buy a lot of presents, so I don’t go through very much of it.
I noticed I was getting a little defensive while reading Rhonda’s post. I don’t have many cherished holiday traditions and have done away with all the ones that I didn’t enjoy. Wrapping paper is one of the ones I’m not ready to let go of yet. Maybe never. Should I feel guilty about it?
I often come to the conclusion that being green shouldn’t be some form of self-flagellation. I didn’t sacrifice anything when I gave up the tree, the ham, or the lights — they were things I didn’t need or want in my life. But maybe they’re important to you, and you’ve made a conscious decision to keep just the holiday traditions that really matter to you. Fine. Everything we do has an impact. It’s my goal to choose wisely — just the stuff that genuinely makes me happy — and accept that other people will choose differently.
Happy winter holiday of choice.
This is what I’ve been busy with:
I’m going to be selling at my first pottery show this Friday and Saturday at the Sunnyvale Community Center. If you’re in the San Jose Bay Area, please come by and check it out!