Christmas Cactus – Gift of Mother Earth – My succulent garden
Photo taken November 23, 2019
Our climate emergency is for real. In his address at the opening of the United Nations Climate Change Conference held on December 2 to 13, 2019, in Madrid, Spain, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said:
The latest, just-released data from the World Meteorological Organization show that levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high. Global average levels of carbon dioxide reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018. And I remember, not long ago, 400 parts per million was seen as an unthinkable tipping point. We are well over it. The last time there was a comparable concentration of CO2 was between 3 and 5 million years ago, when the temperature was between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius warmer than now and sea levels were 10 to 20 metres higher than today.
Yet our collective behavior indicate that we humans are still in denial. Here in the United States, beginning on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, commercial activity has exploded with preparations for the Christmas festivities. Whether we’re Christians or not, Christmas traditions permeate our lives.
Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, organized by our town and city halls, mark the beginning of the season. We decorate our homes. In some neighborhoods, homeowners seem to outdo each other in decorating their front yards. Our children take part in Christmas pageants that enact the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the cause of joyful celebrations among Christians worldwide. Traditional Christmas carols lift our spirits. Another important part of our Christmas traditions is Santa Claus with his workshop of elves, toiling year-round to make gifts for children for delivery during the wee hours on Christmas Day.
Gift giving has exploded over decades of massive advertising to sell us the magic of Christmas. Consumption is at its peak during this time of the year. The anticipated shopping frenzy sends our manufacturing and commercial sectors into overdrive. Our economy booms. Caught up in this consumption madness, we stretch our credit cards to their limits. We put stuff on layaway with the hopes of slicing our budget into even more morsels.
Many of our Christmas traditions are stories we’ve created to add meaning to our joyless lives. For our children. To see the joy on their faces. But Mother Earth, the real Santa Claus, can’t keep up with the pace of our consumption and waste. Our ecological degradation and toxic wastes affect the health of all the elves in her workshop that provide us with her greatest gift of all—LIFE.
If Mother Earth is to keep on giving to all her children in the planetary Web of Life, we urgently need to re-think the way we celebrate Christmas. We need to stop buying stuff we can’t afford, that people don’t need. Instead, let us create new traditions of giving of ourselves, of our individual talents or learned skills.
When we get together for our Christmas parties—at school, in the workplace, among family and friends—we could sing a song, share a poem or folk tale, tell jokes, dance, play a musical instrument, imitate a popular character, or whatever self-expression comes from our heart. Such activities not only provide fun and laughter, but can also bring us closer to each other.
Let us give with joy from the well of our sorrow. Let us give without expecting anything in return. Such is the true nature of giving as Mother Earth has taught us. She gives freely to each one of us—naughty and nice alike, deserving and undeserving. She asks only that we take care of her gifts.
This Christmas Season let us open our hearts to the brokenhearted, the homeless, the hungry, the lonely, the refugee, and the Other that we have been taught to fear and hate.
I’m a storyteller. My stories are my gift to each one of you. Know that they come from the heart, from my well of joy and sorrow.