Something different! A short 1,000 word story for adults and children on how owl helped Santa to become more green with his Christmas presents.
‘Whoa!’ Santa shouted. His reindeer obediently pulled up beneath the canopy of a towering oak tree which stood bare and stark against the starlit sky.
Santa jumped, as a voice from above asked ‘why have you stopped here?’
He looked up in surprise to see the outline of an owl perched on a branch.
‘I’m just giving the reindeer a rest,’ explained Santa, ‘as my sleigh’s heavy this year.
‘No surprise there,’ said the Owl.
‘Why do you say that?’ Santa looked puzzled.
‘Because each year I see you give the children more and more parcels. Larger, heavier parcels, and you use more and more packaging too.’
‘But, but … everyone wants a big parcel, don’t they?’ said Santa. ‘I’m going there,’ he pointed to a farmhouse. ‘A boy and girl live there, all excited about Christmas.’
Owl shook his feathers and looked down. ‘Just take a minute to think, Santa,’ he said. ‘Your presents might be big, but do they help the children to be happier, healthier, or more content?’
Santa, thought for a moment, wondering what to say.
‘What’s in that parcel?’ asked Owl, pointing with his wing.
‘It’s an electronic fish to hang on a wall. When you walk into the room it sings a song. It’s very clever, it uses a motion sensor. It’s for their 9-year-old boy.’
Owl frowned. ‘That’s for a 9-year-old boy?’
‘Yes, it will make him laugh.’
‘But think about what you are giving him. To manufacture it, there will be an enormous quarry, somewhere far away. Children may be being exploited to work there, with no education,’ Owl continued.
‘And the batteries – more mining. The plastic casing is made from oil. The plastic wrapping bags will be in a landfill site by this time next week. And I bet it will be broken within a month.’
‘But, but … what can I give him?’ stammered Santa.
‘You could make a bird box from locally sourced wood,’ suggested Owl, ‘or even better give him a kit so he can build his own. Then he can learn how to build something for himself. He can put it up in his garden. A present which lasts for years, not days. His family will enjoy watching nature with him. Your human lives depend on nature, you know. Not that you’d think it, from the way you all behave.’
Owl was now sounding quite grumpy.
‘Look at all the packaging in your sleigh. It is all shiny and new. That paper comes from trees, you know. Trees in forests where my relatives live.
The sticky tape is made of plastic, and the glitter too. It will fall off to be vacuumed up or worse will get blown in the wind to pollute our soil or rivers.’
Santa looked guiltily into Owl’s big eyes. ‘I don’t need to use glitter, do I? I could use recycled wrapping paper too!’
‘Better to reuse old paper’, said Owl.
Owl blinked. ‘What about the boy’s sister?’ he asked.
‘She is 15 … so I’ve wrapped up a new mobile phone. It’s not a large present. She will be pleased. All her friends have new models.’
‘Oh dear! Oh dear!’ Owl looked sad again.
… more electronics,
… more mining,
… more waste,
… replaced after two years.’
Santa was listening carefully.
‘Now some phones are different, very different,’ continued Owl, Fairphone produce their phones with care and thought about raw materials, where they come from, and the rights of workers. They design the phone to be upgraded and to be easily recycled.’
Owl continued, ‘she can use a climate-friendly phone to contact her friends, a present that could change the attitudes of her friends. It would be so much better.’
‘I also got her a gift voucher for go-karting,’ Santa said quietly, now knowing that this wasn’t the best of ideas either. ‘I thought she might want to take a friend, or maybe her brother.’
‘Gift vouchers can be a good idea. It allows older children to buy what they need, rather than others trying to guess what they want,’ said Owl. ‘But, what about a voucher for an electric go-karting experience? They’re quieter with no diesel particles to damage young people’s lungs. Even better, what about a voucher for a natural experience. Maybe plant a tree,’ Owl said excitedly. ‘She can visit ‘her’ tree and watch it grow. Trees, yes, we need more trees, more woodland, more wild places.’
Santa sat in silence for a moment, the only sound being the soft panting of the reindeer who were restless.
Owl continued, ‘no parent wants their child to be the odd one out. You might think that children want expensive presents, and some parents want to show they love their children by spending lots of money, but you could help to change those ideas … you Santa … you can! Love isn’t about spending lots of money on big presents. Love is helping your family to be happy and healthy. Santa … you could have a positive influence on every family ... they could be guided by you’.
A breeze blew through the trees, making Santa shiver. ‘I need to go now. But when I get home, I am going to talk about this with Mrs. Claus and the elves. We can change … we can think green and help to save the life on this planet.
I’ll choose presents that are fun or interesting, useful and long-lasting. Presents that don’t cost the earth, in fact, presents that can benefit nature. Presents that will benefit children. That’s my promise.’
‘Take action, Santa, my friend, take action. If we all act it will help everyone.’
‘Good-bye. I am glad I met you’ said Santa, as his sleigh rose gently into the sky and disappeared into the clouds.
Owl closed his eyes and wondered if Santa would keep his promise…..
You might also enjoy my book, Carbon Choices on the common-sense solutions to our climate and nature crises. Available direct from me or http://www.carbonchoices.uk/index.php/buy. I continue to donate one third of profits to rewilding projects.
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