12/5/04

What's a liberal to do?

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.

1 comment:

Earth Dog said...

We used to drive around the neighborhoods and look at lights as a family. There was one house in Maryland that was ALWAYS covered in blue bulbs. Every nook and crannie was blue. They always had the shades drawn so that you could never see any light coming from the inside the house. We used to say it looked like a ghost house. And every year we would beg Mom and Dad to take us by the GHOST house. It was neat! Thanks for reminding me of it.

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