Christmas is coming! Reach out more, waste less.

Don’t judge me – I LOVE CHRISTMAS. Love it. As much as I did as a child – possibly even more, because I now have my own child to share the joy with (my partner’s family never got into Christmas festivities much so he suffers through my excitement as any dutiful husband would!).

However, I’m not a fan of all the crap. All the plastic. The foam. The glitter. The waste.

What I like about Christmas is that it gives us all an excuse to reach out to people who we ordinarily might not make the effort to reach out to. Because we’re busy. Because they’re busy, and little Susan has swimming on this day, or little Mike has a birthday party to go to. Or the singletons – too cool for family activities, or too busy with work or hobbies. That’s ok, it’s modern life.

I enjoy having people over. My house is humble. It will never win any awards or be in any magazines. It can barely fit my family and all our belongings, especially now that we both do a lot of work from home. But our doors are always open to friends and acquaintances, for a chat, or just to hang out. At Christmas time I actually have an excuse to ask people over to our tiny abode and not just ask to “Meet up for coffee?”.

I also think that somewhere along the way, we forgot how to give and receive gifts in a way that is pleasant and genuinely brings joy. We receive gifts and automatically think of our reciprocal obligations. We give gifts because we feel we have to, or stoutly refuse to do so because we don’t want to conform to what we perceive to be a commercialization of an outdated tradition. It means there’s a whole seasonal economy being supported by the buying and selling of things people didn’t necessarily need in the first place.

Let’s also not forget that Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone. It is a stressful time for many reasons and can be quite unpleasant for some. The Wayside Chapel in Sydney serves over 3,500 meals on Christmas morning to those who are lonely or homeless, and many other charity organisations have similar Christmas drives.

Christmas can bring people together and actually be a lovely time of year for joyously giving and graciously receiving, or it can be a lonely and anxiety-ridden event.

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on how we can make Christmas a more pleasant, more sustainable, and less wasteful time for those around us, and ways that you can think of to reach out to others.

So however you celebrate (or not) this Christmas season, I hope that you’ll be happy and safe. Pass it on.

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I'm a water engineer with a keen interest in urban water issues, including water security, creating liveable cities, and developing easily adoptable sustainable practices for businesses and the community. I'd love to hear your thoughts on anything and everything.

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