Passage of Green: Reduce, reuse, recycle as we prepare for Christmas

By Burnie Cook

Advent is a time of preparation. We not only prepare for Christmas, we also prepare for the second coming of Christ. Yet how many of us feel prepared for him to come again? Advent is a good time for us to make room in our minds, hearts and lives for him. As the Gospel of Matthew says, “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” (Mt 24: 42).
During this season of preparation, many of us have Advent wreaths and candles; we may get a “Christmas tree,” which we will decorate with lights and/or ornaments. Either way at the base of each of these traditions is something green, something natural. Whether the wreath and the tree are real or artificial, please dispose of them in the best way possible. For real trees and wreaths, find a place to mulch them.
Presents and gifts are typically a big part of the holy days of Christmas. It’s important to remember Jesus is truly the reason for the season and he is the gift that truly never stops giving. In that spirit we give gifts with thought and love. 
This also calls to mind something I heard in a priest’s homily years ago. For children, who are gifts from God themselves, we may want to give them money or the newest and coolest toys and gadgets, but what they really need is our love. Watching little children tear into wrapping paper and play with boxes at Christmas is the perfect example of this. We need not spend large amounts of money and time searching for the finest item or latest gadget, all we really need to do is love.
We can also give our loved ones the gift of time. During Advent, stop for some time to go to a park or on a hike to enjoy the sunshine or moonlight, the crisp and fresh air, and the leaves rustling in the trees. I love enjoying nature with my loved ones, especially my four-legged “child.” His enthusiasm for being outside is contagious!
We might also come together with our loved ones to give the gift of time to those in need. Consider volunteering at a food pantry, homeless shelter or animal shelter on a regular basis. 
As we give more tangible presents, let us use the recycling principles of reducing, reusing or recycling. Wrapping paper, more often than not, gets thrown away and never used again. If it’s necessary to wrap presents, consider using newspaper or magazines. Or consider using ribbons or bows on gifts instead of wrapping everything. Ribbons and bows may be used time and time again, so store them for next Christmas. Let the little ones play with the paper and boxes until they have had their fill, then recycle it.
Life itself is a gift, it is our gift from God. “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). As with all the gifts we receive, may we give thanks to God for giving us life.
Let us remember that Jesus is with us as we wrap up 2013 and as we begin 2014. “The one who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Then he said, ‘Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true. … I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water’” (Rv 21:5-6)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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