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21世纪大学英语读写基础教程09

Unit 9

Text A

In the U.SA., Christmas has long been characterized by piles of presents and lavish parties. Not long ago, a group of people urged the public to give up extravagant Christmas celebrations and spend the holiday simply.

In Defense of a Simple Christmas

Bill McKibben

I know what I will be doing on Christmas Eve. My wife, my 4-year-old daughter, my dad, my brother and I will snowshoe out into the woods in the late afternoon, choose a suitable tree and saw it down. I have had my eye on three or four likely candidates all year.
We will bring it home, shake off the snow, decorate it and then head for church, where the Sunday school class I help teach will perform this year's pageant. And then it is home to hang stockings, stoke the fire and go to bed. Our Christmas celebration is as traditional as it gets, except that there is no sprawling pile of presents under the tree.
Several years ago, a few of us in northern New York started a campaign for "$100 holidays." We decided to urge people not to spend more than $100 per family on presents and to rely instead on simple homemade gifts. That first year, I made walking sticks for everyone. Last year, I made spicy chicken sausage. My mother has embraced the idea by making calendars illustrated with snapshots she has taken.
The $100 figure was a way to explain to children why they weren't getting everything on their list. So far, our daughter, Sophie, does fine at Christmas. Her stocking is exciting to her. The tree is exciting. Skating on the pond is exciting. It is worth mentioning, however, that we don't have a television, so she may not understand the degree of her impoverishment.
This holiday idea may sound modest. It is modest. And yet at the same time, it is pretty radical. Christmas, it turns out, is a bulwark of the nation's economy. Many businesses do a third of their volume in the months just before Dec. 25. And so it hits a nerve to question whether we should celebrate the birth of a man who said we should give all that we have to the poor by showering one another with motorized tie racks.
When we began the $100 campaign, merchants writing to the local newspapers made it clear to us what a threatening idea it was. Newspaper columnists thought it was pretty extreme, too. One said that while our message had merit, it would do too much damage to business.
And he was right, or at least not wrong. If we all backed out of Christmas excess, we would sink many a gift shop. If we threw less lavish office parties, caterers would suffer — and florists and liquor wholesalers and so on down the feeding chain. But we have to start somewhere if we are to climb down from the unsustainable heights we have reached, and Christmas might as well be it.
When we began to spread our idea about celebrating Christmas in a new way, we were earnest and sober. Big-time Christmas was an environmental disgrace — all that wrapping paper and all those batteries. The money could be so much better spent: The price of one silk necktie could feed a village for a day. And struggling to create a proper Christmas drives poor families into debt. Here in New York, January finds many people cutting back on heat to pay off their Christmas bills.
Those were all good reasons to scale back. But as we continued our campaign, we found we really weren't interested in changing Christmas because we wanted fewer batteries. We wanted more joy. We felt cheated by the Christmases we were having — so rushed, so busy and so full of hype that we couldn't relax and enjoy the season.
You may be too late for this Christmas. You already may have bought your pile of stuff. In fact, turning the focus of Christmas back to Christ is a long and patient effort. But to judge from our family's holidays in recent years, it is well worth the effort.
(644 words)

New Words

defense
n. the act or process of defending 维护,保卫;辩护

snowshoe
vi. 穿雪鞋行走
n. (用于在雪地上行走的)雪 鞋

saw
v. 锯,锯开

candidate
n. 候选者;候选人

decorate
v. add sth. to (an object or place), esp. in order to make it more attractive 装饰
pageant
n. a show or ceremony, usu. out of doors, in which there are people wearing rich dress or in which historical scenes are acted 盛大的庆曲;(露天演出的)历史剧

stocking
n. 长袜,袜子

stoke
v. stir up and feed fuel to (a fire, etc.) 添加燃料拨旺(炉火)

celebration
n. the act of celebrating 庆祝

sprawl
vi. spread out irregularly over a large area (杂乱无章地)蔓生,蔓延,扩展

campaign
n. a planned set of actions intended to realize a particular goal 运动

urge
vt. try very hard to advise or ask (sb.) to do a particular thing 力劝;敦促

per
prep. for each 每,每一

rely
vi. (on) depend on sb. or sth. 依靠

homemade
a. made at home, locally or at the place bought 自制的

spicy
a. having or producing a pleasantly strong taste and smell 有香(料)味的;辛辣的

sausage
n. 香肠;腊肠

embrace
vt. (fml) accept eagerly [正式]欣然接受
vt. & vi. take and hold (sb. or each other) in the arms (互相)拥抱

calendar
n. 日历

illustrate
vt. 1. add pictures to (a book, etc.) 给(书等)加插图
2. make clear by examples (用例子)说明;表明

snapshot
n. an informal photo, usu. taken with a simple camera (简易照相机拍的)快照

figure
n. 1. an amount, esp. of money (钱等的)数目
2. any of the number signs 数字符号

pond
n. an area of water smaller than a lake 池塘

mention
vt. speak about (sth.) in a few words 提及,谈起

impoverishment
n. poverty 贫穷

modest
a. 1. not large in amount, size, value, etc. 适度的,不过分的
2. having a lower opinion of one's own ability than is probably deserved 谦虚的

radical
a. extreme; thoroughgoing 激进的;彻底的

bulwark
n. any protection against danger, injury, etc. 保障;支柱

economy
n. the system by which a country's wealth is produced through trade, industry, etc. 经济体制,经济情况

volume
n. the number or amount of sth. 份量,量;额

nerve
n. 1. 神经
2. courage; determination 勇敢;决心

shower
vt. send or give (sth.) (to sb.) in great numbers 大量地给予

motorized
a. equipped with a motor 机动化的;摩托化的

rack
n. 架子,挂架,搁架

merchant
n. a person who buys and sells goods for profit 商人

threaten
v. express a threat against 威胁

columnist
n. a person who writes a newspaper or magazine column 专栏作家

merit
n. the quality of being good 优点,长处

damage
n. injury or harm to a person or thing 破坏,损害
vt. do damage to 破坏,损害

excess
n. immoderate indulgence, as in eating, drinking, etc. (饮食烟酒等的)无节制,无度

lavish
a. very wasteful in giving or using 非常浪费的

caterer
n. a person or company that provides food for large social events 酒席承办人

florist
n. a person or company that owns or works in a shop which sells cut lowers and plants 花商;花店工作人员

liquor
n. 酒,含酒精饮料

wholesaler
n. a businessman who sells goods in large quantities and usu. at low prices 批发商

unsustainable
a. unable to be continued in its present form 无法支撑(或维持)的

earnest
a. serious; not joking; sincere 认真的;真诚的

* sober
a. serious; thoughtful 严肃的;审慎的

environmental
a. 环境的

disgrace
n. shame or loss of other people's respect; a person or thing that brings shame, dishonor, etc. 丢脸,耻辱;丢脸的人(或事)

wrap
v. cover or enclose within a covering 包裹

battery
n. 电池

necktie
n. (esp. AmE) tie (尤美)领带;领结

debt
n. money or other things owed to sb. else 欠债,债务

scale
vt. increase or reduce, esp. by a fixed rate (按比例)调节
n. a set of numbers or standards used to measure or compare (测量或比较的)标准;等级

cheat
v. deceive 欺骗

hype
n. 天花乱坠的宣传

Phrases and Expressions

in defense of
supporting 维护;为…辩护

shake off
get rid of 抖落;摆脱

rely on
depend on 依靠,依赖

so far
up to the present 到目前为止

turn out
be found or known to be 结果(是);原来(是);证明(是)

hit/touch a nerve
refer to a subject that causes sb. pain, anger, etc.触及要害;触到痛处

do damage to
损害,破坏

back out
with draw 退出,撒手不干

many a
(fml) many [正式]许多

climb down
1. 往下爬
2. admit that you are wrong 认错;退让

might as well
还是…为好,不妨

drive... into
force (sb.) into a usu. unpleasant condition 迫使,逼使

cut back on
reduce 缩减,削减

pay off
pay (a debt) in full 还清

scale back
reduce (sth.) by a fixed rate 按比例缩减

Proper Names

Bill McKibben
比尔·默基本(人名)

Sophie
索菲(女子名)

Christ
基督
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