The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Bette Jane Kowalski, Chairwoman, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Eitel of Clark, this year Union County will again enjoy its 50-year tradition of marking the holidays with a beautifully decorated evergreen tree in the Courthouse Rotunda.

This donation of a 25-foot pine is a fitting symbol for a season that celebrates giving. It’s a modest gesture that will provide so many Union County residents, families and children with lasting holiday memories, including a Christmas Eve sing-along featuring a visit from Santa.

The tradition of giving runs strongly through Union County at all times of the year, so I like to think of the holiday season as a wonderful time to renew and strengthen our commitment to our families, friends, neighbors, and communities.

As we cherish the traditions inherited from past generations, the holiday season is also a wonderful time to begin some new traditions of our own. I’m thinking particularly of the intangible gifts we can pass along to our children and grandchildren, whether it’s a new holiday song or game at family gatherings, or something entirely different.

For many Union County residents, that “something different” is a growing interest in celebrating the holidays in ways that show respect and appreciation for our natural surroundings. It’s an interest we share with people all over our country and around the world.

Having a green holiday means something different for every family. If you live near a shopping district, you might start buying all of your gifts from local stores. That saves gas money and cuts down on greenhouse emissions, too.

You might also notice some shoppers carrying canvas totes instead of using shopping bags from stores. That saves an enormous amount of waste from both paper and plastic disposable bags.

Gift cards are another great way to reduce waste, because they ensure that your gift will not end up in the back of the closet. Giving a favorite activity, such as theatre tickets or a dinner out, is also becoming a popular alternative.

Another green holiday trick is to put gifts in reusable boxes or bags, rather than using disposable wrapping paper.

Green gifts are perfect for green-minded friends and family. A beautiful thermal mug or a stylish reusable water bottle can replace hundreds of disposable beverage cups.

As we learn more about global warming, we are also learning that each gesture, no matter how modest, adds up to actions that affect the quality of our air, water, and land. Cutting down on waste and throwaways is one of the most important traditions that we can pass along to the next generation.

In a season that brings so much joy to the world, giving a bit of “green” back to the earth is another wonderful way we can all share in the holiday spirit.