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Lynne Plambeck: Holiday gifts of light and laughter

Environmentally Speaking

Posted: December 24, 2008 5:36 p.m.
Updated: December 25, 2008 4:55 a.m.
This year, worries over the economy have slowed us all down a bit. For many, there's that nagging concern about whether we will have a job next year or just how slow our business will get.

Such concerns have probably curtailed our trips to the mall and made us re-evaluate our Christmas gift budgets. But perhaps reducing our insatiable drive to own more "stuff" is not such a bad turn of events for our unsustainable, throw-away, consumer society. Have you watched the "Story of Stuff" on the Internet? If not, you might want to check it out at It will probably make you feel better about a reduced shopping schedule.

For myself, I have gotten away from needing or wanting more stuff, and luckily, my friends and family know this. Rather than a gift, I have asked that they donate to the environment or a charity of their choice.

Yesterday, I received a card from my folks that said a donation to "Medical Team International" had been made on my behalf.

What a wonderful present to think that I will be part of helping someone, somewhere in the world, obtain medical help they might not have otherwise received.

Then there is the gift of laughter. After the stress of public life that is often rewarding, but sometimes confrontational, uncomfortable and exhausting, a holiday party with a "re-gifting" exchange is quite a marvelous present. Laughter, warmth and holiday fare abound. Silly or serious presents of items that sat in the closet all year are received and given. The "re-gift" grows in value with the laughter and fun that accompanies it.

There is the gift of a holiday party that brings friends together to benefit a local charity. Such events abound in Santa Clarita; just check the community calendar. Not only will you receive the holiday fun of being with friends, but you will also know you have the appreciation of the local community group and the people they serve.

The last special gift that I always look forward to at the holiday season is the gift of the sheer beauty of our wintry world. In Santa Clarita, the rain has cleansed the air to a crystal clear brilliance that makes the soft winter sunlight even more delicate.

Our valley is surrounded by snow-covered hills, a magnificent sight not impeded by the air pollution so prevalent here in the summer months. The winter storms make our beautiful Santa Clara River flow with water again, greening the surrounding vegetation.

The rain also brings the more practical gift of recharging our water supply so that once again we will be able to water our flowers in the summertime.

Migrating birds pass through on their way to here and there, bringing their unusual songs and colors, so there is the fun of getting up early for the Audubon Christmas Bird count.

The local Sierra Club holds its annual New Year's Day hike, a bit rigorous if you have been out celebrating the night before, but it doesn't start until noon (at Walker Ranch in Placerita Canyon). The view of our valley from the ridgeline is stunning.

And I especially like the simple beauty of the morning sun through the rising mist of melting frost that I see through my window each cold morning.

Our blue-green planet is really so beautiful.

I wish you all the joy, laughter, beauty and the special light of this holiday season.

And may you hold all these gifts in your heart throughout the new year.

Lynne Plambeck is president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, now celebrating 21 years of service to the Santa Clarita Valley. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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