As I sat in a sea of wrapping paper and toys after my kids opened their Christmas presents, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. While their joy lit up my heart (and the hearts of watching relatives), I felt in my gut that what we're doing is unsustainable. Sure I worked hard to be strategic about what I bought — but I still bought more things that will eventually add to the trash on our planet and I certainly didn't have any control over what everyone else bought. And, on the surface, I understand why some people might not share my concern.
We've gotten used to Christmas being a certain way throughout our lifetimes and we want to see our children (and grandchildren) experience the same excitement. I get that. Still, our planet can't sustain our consumption habits forever. This is already evident by the apparent tipping point of global warming and the catastrophic events like fires and superstorms. The world is changing before our eyes.
This isn't a new feeling for me. I've tried to scale back for Christmases before. I've mindfully thought about how I want to structure presents for my kids so they won't get used to having too much and then suddenly feel like there's not enough someday. Still, I find myself unable to resist a little here and a little there — and as for the grandparents, I haven't been able to convince them all to join my team (as I good heartedly understand).
So, where does this leave us? The Amazon rainforest is on fire. Australia is on fire. My home state of California is taking a winter break from being on fire. There's a trash island in the ocean twice the size of the state of Texas. I worry for my children's future. I want them to grow up and be able to have families of their own. I hear my older daughter's hope for many children and I find myself silently praying she gets to have at least one — and that her child is able to do the same.
I'll stop there with that. It's depressing. It's not new. Most of us know these things and quietly accept them as true, but still we generally make the same decisions each day, month, and year that are adding to this planetary emergency. I know I'm part of the problem in many ways. I like to travel. I drive a gasoline-powered car. The list goes on. Nonetheless, even my IG feed isn't safe from catastrophes these days. I see pictures of firemen carrying koalas and mothers holding their children on smokey beaches while I sit comfortably in my living room. I guess it's hard to stop thinking about these things once you start down this road, but it leaves me with a solid question: If the world is changing, what are we doing to change with it?
We can't just keep doing the same things while we watch the world burn. Or at least we shouldn't. That's my call to action for 2020. While I still haven't completed my yearly vision for the future (my version of resolutions), I know deep in my bones that the world is changing and now is the time for us to start changing, too. We're going to have to accept that things aren't going to look the same for our kids as they did during our childhoods. Can we indulge a bit here and there? Yes, but we're going to have to make big changes.