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Making an Exception for Tradition…

This is my extended family. Every year we all meet at my Grandparents’ home in Carbondale, Illinois. This year for our family portrait, I wanted to emphasize how far we all travel in order to continue our Christmas family traditions. And to summarize for you: the total number of the miles traveled by all of my 17 relatives and their spouses in order to get to Carbondale, Illinois is: 31,327 miles (32,025 if you count the dogs’ journey) and 64,050 for a round trip.

Those are a lot of miles and that is a huge carbon footprint… and that doesn’t include all of the presents, and wrapping paper, and trips to the mall.

Being a person who cares a great deal about the environment… the crazy amounts of consumption that occurs in one week is embarrassing… but at the same time… I feel incredibly lucky. I feel lucky because:

  • I have an amazing family, and we have wonderfully bizarre family traditions that we have carried out for as many years as I can remember…
  • I know not many people have such a strong extended family, especially one that is so spread apart…
  • and because I know that these traditions will not last forever, so I better enjoy them while I have them.

So, for the spirit of Christmas and for the love of family, I try and contain my environmental gripes, and I wholeheartedly throw myself into the crazy seasonal consumerism as much as possible. But I still do little things to try and make myself feel a little better, such as shopping at the local Carbondale stores, instead of the big box stores and chains, and wrapping all my presents in newspaper and reused paper, and preventing my paper-plate-loving relatives from adding to the overcrowded landfills, just because they do not want to do dishes.

And in the end… traditions make it all worth while. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for bringing us all together for all these years, and for teaching us the value of family. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

About the author paige green

Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.

All posts by paige green →

One Comment

  1. Hey paige!! sounds like you had a wonderful holiday w/ the fam!! i just ran into this on the panos site and it made me think of you. see any of these gals while you were in the rink shooting?

    http://panos.co.uk./bin/panos.dll/go?a=disp&t=usnw-loader.html&tpl=nw-index.html&_max=0&_maxlb=0

    hope you’re well!! k

    Reply

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