Friday, 4 December 2009

Is decorating a "green" thing to do?

When I think of all the time and money expended on Christmas by people, I can't help but wonder why we bother with it. In fact, I believe Mr. Scrooge was right in the first place. Some will argue that activities such as decorating are fun. I certainly enjoyed it when I was a child but that was because I didn't have to pay for all the paper we wasted. In my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I wrote the following about this topic.
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After the excitement of the prince's visit subsided, my dorm mates introduced me to the Tyler House tradition of Christmas decorating. With crepe paper and an abundance of enthusiasm, we each decked our bedrooms. The seasonal adornments added colour to the drab grey floor tiles and pale yellow walls of our quarters. Unfortunately, we were unable to attach anything to the ceiling. It was crisscrossed by concrete beams which were covered in a type of flaky grey stippling material. We attached the crepe paper to the wardrobes and walls instead.

I also learned the hard way that crepe paper has the distressing ability of stretching. Franklin, suspecting nothing, became entangled in my work. I took down the sagging streamers and hung fresh ones all over again, apologizing to Franklin all the while, who good-naturedly forgave me. On our last evening at Jericho, we gleefully tore down our decorations. Though it may seem like an insignificant act of rebellion, it was one way of expressing our opinion about being held in that institution.
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In the following chapter, I wrote about how an argument happened between me and my dorm mates regarding sprucing up our quarters.
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While everybody decorated their dorm rooms that December, I had a disagreement with the other boys. After arguing for approximately a half hour, I said, "How about you decorating your part of the room your way and I'll decorate my corner the way I want to?" My roommates agreed, ending the argument but not the bad feelings. I must admit that I over-decorated to compensate for only having my little area to work in.

On the night before we left for home, we did our usual ripping down of decorations. Gripped by the excitement of the moment, I decided to climb on top of the wardrobe and jump through the streamers over my bed. Fortunately, the springs were strong and I did not injure myself. No supervisor saw what I did either.
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Though we now have recycling programs for many waste products, I feel that decorating is wasteful in itself unless the decorations can be reused year after year. Had all the money people spent over the decades on this holiday been used to feed and employ the poor, I'm sure this world would be better off.

Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. This 196-page paperback sells for $25.00 through the PayPal-equipped Inscribe writers group website. It also contains 6 black and white photographs.