Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas 2014: Birth of a New Tradition?

Every year as the Christmas shopping season gets underway, giant overseas factories in high gear provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- at the expense of American labor as well as the health and well-being of the persons who did the work.

This year can be different; we can start a new tradition. This year Americans can give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans.

There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes, there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in foreign-produced wrapping paper? Here are some ideas:

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.  Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, neighborhood detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant gift-givers who think nothing of plonking down the big money on a foreign-made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would appreciate alternate extravagant gifts like having his driveway sealed, or her lawn mowed for the entire summer, or games each week at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants in our city -- all offering gift certificates. If you are buying for someone who isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about  a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint? Remember folks, this isn't about big national chains -- this is about supporting your home town neighbors who have their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by guy who lives in your neighborhood? Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.  My computer could use a tune-up, and I'm sure there is someone who is working hard to get his repair business up and running who would sell my husband a gift certificate for that service.

Looking for something more personal? Local craftspeople spin their own wool and knit it into scarves. They make jewelry,and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. The calendar is full of arts and crafts fairs this time of year; enjoy the browsing and support a local artisan by buying a unique gift.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. How about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre?  Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands for a date night.

And think, do you really need to buy another ten strings of cheap imported lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, only about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mail carrrier, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip instead. That's really lighting up the neighborhood with holiday spirit.

Let's make this season about caring about our community, encouraging our local small businesses and artisans to keep plugging away to follow their dreams.

Happy Holidays!

Note: I can't find a source or author for this, but as a local business owner I liked the sentiment. Call it a protest, since those are back in fashion  a protest against doing things the same old way,  a protest against choosing materialism over community.   

What do you think Clairemont? Are you thinking and feeling differently about your holiday gift giving this year? For those who don't celebrate Christmas, would these thoughts apply to other gift-giving occasions? Your thoughts please!

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