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Living Lightly column

Dear Santa

By Jonathon Howard

Dear Santa

Although I am in my fifties, this is my first letter to you.

You see I normally don’t ask for anything at Christmas. I think it is because part of me believes I am on your ‘naughty list’.

But this letter is not about me.

I am a dad now and I need your help. You see I have three children. Each have made a Christmas wish.

My oldest’ s wish is easy. She is in her teens and wants anything from One Direction, Harry Styles, or Niall Horan. I can take care of this.

Next is Anna, who loves arts and craft. I am sure I can fulfill her wish this Christmas.

It’s my youngest that is the challenge.

You see she loves the outdoors. We were walking the dogs along the banks of Bowna Arm the other day and at the first picnic area, someone had lit a fire, burnt their food waste including the cans, and covered it up with soil. It was a mess.

She asked me “Dad, why don’t people put their rubbish in the bins?” I replied I think it is because they believe burning and bury the rubbish is the same as getting rid of it.

We walked a bit further and there were two soiled nappies near a tree in another clearing.

We then wove our way towards the boat ramp and along the way we came across discarded fishing gear along the water’s edge.

So I said let’s go down to Waterworks and see if the dogs will chase the ball. We went back to the car, packed up the dogs, and when down to the river for some more fun.

When the dogs got tired, we sat down at a picnic table. My daughter noticed a pile of empty beer bottles stacked under a tree, cigarette butts around the table, and a garbage bag stuffed with what looked like a family’s left-over lunch waste.

She again turned to me and asked, “Daddy why do people come to a place they love, care enough about it to pack up their waste, but then leave it here for someone else?” I had no answer.

To which she then said, “I wish people would leave the places we enjoy the same way they found them”.

And that, Santa, is the wish I am asking your help with.