The old HP laserjet printer in our church office kicked the bucket a few weeks ago, so I took it over to the Watertown Recycling Center. A man set in an idling DPW truck at the entrance to the Center, waiting to assist folks, and he helpfully directed me to the right bin. The photo above shows the contents of the bin: a motley collection of detritus from our plugged in, screen-centered, waste-generating culture.
My next stop was Costco. As he scanned my veggie sausage, I asked the check-out guy what Costco’s number-one selling product was. “Easy,” he said. “Paper towels.” And then he added, “We live in an amazingly wasteful society.” I didn’t respond to this, other than to nod, as there was a long line of impatient people waiting behind me, most with paper towels in their carts. But it stuck with me.
It was still on my mind last night when I sat down to watch a TV show. November 18th, and already every advertisement was euphorically announcing the arrival of “shopping season.” People singing and dancing as they leapt through the aisles of stores, Christmas carols re-written to extol the excitement of getting great deals, and previews of the 11 o’clock news, which would feature predictions about Black Friday sales.
As we head into what I refuse to call the “shopping season” and like to refer to as Advent, here are my personal vows. If you want to sign on, please do. If not, just promise me you’ll set a few of your own.
1. I’m going to spend at least as much time praying as I do shopping.
2. I’m going to try to select gifts with as little packaging as possible and be creative about wrapping them without using a forest’s worth of wrapping paper.
3. To the extent I can, I’m going to honor Advent as a season of waiting for Christmas, preparing my heart for Christmas, not pre-celebrating Christmas.