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Creation care at Christmas!

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By Christina Bagaglio Slentz

SAN DIEGO — The days grow  dark earlier and earlier, and we long for the light. God’s gift of creation again reflects and repeats the truth of our relationship with our Creator. This anticipation builds during Advent as we wait for Christ, the Light of the World, to be reborn among us. But how do we celebrate this joyous occasion in harmony with this gift? Here are a few ideas for you and yours.

Truly Greening Your Church & Home
Skip the overload of plastic, single-season items and fill your holiday home with the beauty of God’s creation. Deck the halls with real boughs — use natural branches, pinecones, dried fruits, nuts and sprigs of berries alongside candles and ribbons. Revitalize family decorations passed down from older generations, search for gently used items in thrift shops, and take good care of the new decorations you purchase, so they will last longer. Consider splurging on a reusable Advent calendar instead of buying plastic-heavy “throw-aways” each year. You’ll save money in the long run. Finally, opt for LED Christmas lights, which last longer and use less energy.

Sustainable Gifts
Shopping in advance can be key to avoiding last-minute purchases that don’t fit or aren’t desired. WARNING: Returned clothing will be sent to a landfill as it is less expensive for companies to toss than re-rack items. For your bookworm? Find a signed copy of a (used) book by his/her favorite author. Trying to please grandkids who have it all? Give an experience — tickets to a sport or cultural arts event — in lieu of a physical gift. What about those hard-to-shop-for grandparents? Rally all the cousins and make a video with your favorite app featuring old family gathering images and messages of love. The value will be priceless. Want to put a bow on your green giving endeavor? Save your brown paper grocery bags for wrapping your favorite things and tie them up with string

Eco-friendly Christmas Activities
If you are crafty, try your hand at making your very own ecological Advent calendar. The Internet abounds with ideas for repurposing decoratively painted paper rolls to package daily sweets.

Also, try these environmentally-friendly actions that can add meaning to Christmas:

1) Make Christmas cards for a retirement community.

2) Pick up trash in your neighborhood.

3) Decorate your Christmas tree.

4) Set out food for the birds.

5) Watch a Christmas movie with your family.

6) Support a local toy drive.

7) Have a Christmas music dance party.

8) Go for a walk to look at the Christmas lights.

9) Volunteer at a local food bank.

10) Have a Christmas baking day.

11) Make cards for your teacher, coach, crossing guard, etc.

12) Deliver treats to your neighbors.

13) Visit or reach out to a distant family member.

14) Grocery shop for a food bank.

15) Go for a hike.

16) Go caroling.

17) Call or text a friend with a holiday message.

18) Read Christmas books.

19) Wrap a present for your pastor.

The Reason for the Season
Catholic Social Teaching calls us to care for creation because the earth, our common home, is God’s gift to all humanity. In this season of gift-giving, our response to this gift is our gift to God. Therefore, each intentional, eco-friendly action is like a small prayer, reflecting our gratitude and keeping us mindful of the real reason for the season — Jesus.

Christina Bagaglio Slentz is the diocesan Office for Life, Peace and Justice’s associate director for Creation Care Ministry.

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