I'm not a big spending liberal. I'm really just a recycling liberal. I get really embarrassed about living in the most wasteful society that has ever existed on the planet. I worry that it will somehow get written on my personal Permanent Record.
Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E. F. Schumacher, is high on the list of books from college that influenced my life. I believe in simplicity and human-scale technologies. I believe we have to find creative alternate uses for discarded items to sustain life on this planet. I am the child of children of the Great Depression. I am thankful for the stories my parents shared as we were sitting around the dinner table, and for the perspective they provided.
And so, I come to the annual dilemma. To what lengths must I go to resuscitate a dead string of Christmas tree lights? How do I act on my conscience, and yet not lose my mind trying to replace teeny-tiny bulbs and fuses?
Ever since I was about four I have liked trees decorated with all blue lights. The Catholic bishop of Lincoln had all blue lights on the tall pines framing his house on Cotner Boulevard when I was a kid. It always looked very cool and special to me when we went on our snowy Christmas Eve Drive. A few years back I asked my kids, and they requested all blue lights, too. Try as I might, I couldn't salvage enough strings and bulbs of blue to do the whole tree this time. Rather than be wasteful, or actually have to walk across the street to Walgreens, I patched together some strings with multicolors and blinkers. I'm over it. I've let go. I'm breathing in and out. I'm watching the colored sillouhettes of fake needles on the cobweb-free ceiling.