Quote of the Day: Bill McKibben on Christmas


Photo credit: lollyknit
I’ve been called my share of names, but the only one that ever really stung was "grinch." The year that a few friends and I started the Hundred Dollar Holiday program through our rural Methodist churches, several business page columnists in the local papers leveled the G-word—we were dour do-gooders, they said, bent on taking the joy out of Christmas. And, frankly, their charges sounded plausible enough.

After all, we were asking our families, our friends, and our church brethren to try and limit the amount of money they spend on the holiday to a hundred dollars—to celebrate the holiday with a seventh or an eighth of the normal American materialism. There’s no question that would mean fewer "Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums! Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!" Not to mention Playstations, Camcorders, Five Irons, and various Obsessions. Perhaps my heart was two sizes too small. ...Christmas had become something to endure at least as much as it had become something to enjoy—something to dread at least as much as something to look forward to. Instead of an island of peace amid a busy life, it was an island of bustle. The people we were talking to wanted so much more out of Christmas: more music, more companionship, more contemplation, more time outdoors, more love. And they realized that to get it, they needed less of some other things: not so many gifts, not so many obligatory parties, not so much hustle. ...

If there’s one way in which the world has changed more than any other since 1840, one thing that’s truly different about our lives, it’s that we’ve become such devout consumers. That consumption carries with it certain blessings (our lives are long and easy by any historical standard) and certain costs (first and foremost the damage it causes to the rest of creation). But the greatest cost may be the way it’s changed us, the way it has managed to confuse us about what we really want from the world."

—Bill McKibben in an article posted on New American Dream

Tags: Christmas | Consumerism | Gifts | Holidays | United States

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