A CSR Tree for the holidays, recycled ornaments included

PeaceonEarth.jpgI was checking out a Fast Company blog post yesterday by Ann Charles which featured a “CSR Tree” graphic composed up of some of Twitter handles of many CSR thought leaders, bloggers, and sustainability web sites. One of the people included, Chris Jarvis of @RealizedWorth, responded with thanks and commented that he thought he might cut it out and put it on his tree at home. Now, I imagine my friends would surely make fun of me if I put a CSR ornament on my tree – they already think I’m enough of a CSR geek. But it did make me think of my own collection of ornaments and the seasonal reflections on CSR and sustainability they evoke.

Since moving across the country away from most of my family and friends, there is one holiday ritual that I have preserved: pouring some wine, putting on the Christmas music and lugging my ornaments and tree out of the garage. Yes, I read with much interest the great fake-vs-real x-mas tree debate this past week, having traded in the annual real tree for a fake one a few years ago, in part because I thought it would be better for the environment than buying a new tree each year, and in part because I was beginning to have nightmares about the real tree going up in in flames since the dry Arizona air seemed to completely suck the moisture out of it in less than a week. But that could be a whole other blog post.

One of the favorite things about decorating the tree is opening up box after box to reencounter the vintage ornaments that belonged to my grandparents. Some of these ornaments are over 50 years old by now – a sheer miracle that they have survived, a) given how fragile they are and the multiple times they have been moved around and, b) given that I am a complete and utter klutz. In our current world of consumption and disposable goods, it’s a small reminder of how long things can last if we are careful with them.

The second thing I love is the fact that many of my ornaments are homemade. From the ones that I made in third grade that my mom actually saved all this time (which are pretty ugly I must admit, despite everyone telling me how artistic I was growing up), the needlepoint angels and birdhouses that my grandmother stitched, and the beautifully intricate beaded ornaments my best friend from high school made for me out of broken costume jewelry and beads. Another reminder that it’s possible to make beautiful things out of extra material or things that might otherwise be thrown away (or in the case of my own attempts at art, to just keep using something since it still serves its purpose even if it doesn’t look that great.)

Ornament2.jpg Finally, I love the “local” ornaments on my tree. These are the many ornaments given to me as gifts over the years from friends in cities where I used to live and from times when they lived abroad. From my Big Apple ornament with the Twin Towers to the crazy caroling Cape Cod lobsters, these ornaments bring to mind the whole “buy local” movement that seems to gain more momentum and attention each holiday season. But more importantly, they make me think of a friend or family member from the different places I’ve lived who are now far away, but still very much represented in my quiet annual holiday ritual.

As this work year comes to a close and I begin gearing up for 2011, I think back on all of the great people I have met throughout the year in the world of CSR, inside Intel, at conferences, over phone/email, and of course through social media. My best holiday wishes to all of the folks “in the #CSRTree” and beyond with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from during the past year. Happy holidays!

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