Bob’s sister, Shelley, posted an article on her FB page about making Christmas personal. It starts out like this:
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will 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 Chinese produced wrapping paper?
The article goes on to suggest giving gift certificates for local restaurants, car washes, and maid services. There were recommendations for friends and family of all ages. The writer advocates buying crafted gifts from area artisans or hand-making gifts yourself.
I like the idea!
Of course I do. My family and friends have been recipients of my hand-mades for several years. And I’ve been lucky enough to get their hand-work, too. I have a great collection of artwork made by my children and grandchildren. This year I won’t think about framing them and hanging them on the walls: I’ll do it! Some of my most treasured possessions are hand-made gifts. They make me smile whenever I use them.
I checked out buying American made and using local merchants for purchased gifts this Christmas. One website, www.madeinusa.org, states, “Back to School and Gift Shopping begins with MADEinUSA Search Engine & Database. Patriots start all their Holiday shopping looking for Made in America products to help out economy recover by creating and keeping more jobs here at home.”
I felt a little guilty just reading the website’s statement. The statement made me look at the assembly location of my favorite tools/appliances. I drive a Mazda Tribute (Japanese & Mexican parts/US assembly), treasure a Panasonic camera (China or Japan), watch a Sony TV (China or Japan), and use an LG phone (South Korean); but I am typing this on an HP computer (mostly US parts/US assembly) with a cup of coffee brewed on my Keurig (US). Still, that doesn’t make me much of a Patriot so far.
Wanting to build up my Patriot soul, I started looking at toys that are helping the economy recover “and keeping more jobs here at home.” There was an interesting choice, but many of the ones that I thought would be ideal had sold out. I guess there are more Patriots out there than I imagined. The MIA toys that were in stock ranged from a little to a lot more expensive than the MIC or MIJ toys. Most of the good ones were A LOT more. I find that my Patriot soul has the same price tag as my Eco-Geek soul.
I want to act environmentally aware, but I used my recycling box as a planter until it got UV’d to splintereens. I can’t keep track of my re-usable water bottles and end up buying plastic water bottles at Stripes. I ended up donating the remaining rolls of recycled T’paper to the Salvation Army. And I buy environmentally unfriendly cleansers because they clean better than the ones that don’t impact the environment.
Is there a middle ground that doesn’t make me squirm whenever I see displaced Polar bears and unemployed manufacturing plant workers? I think there is. Or at least there is a start.
1. I’ve found that clothes shopping at resale shops works. So does furniture shopping at my local curb just before the garbage truck rolls through. I draw the line at unders and shoes, but pretty much anything else is fair game.
2. I will continue to make gifts. I find it a beautiful exercise to create and pray for the person I’m making a present for. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a holy-roly, but I like using that quiet time thinking about why I love a person enough to make them a gift. It’s a little hard to give that positive energy when I toss down Benjamins at Best Buy.
3. I will buy American when I buy gifts. That means I will make sure that I am really buying American and not foreign parts with a Made in USA stamp after import to our shores.
4. I will continue GE’s tradition of recycling wrapping paper, tissue, and sacks. She set me up with a starter box last year as a gift and I’ve used it all year. (I’ve restocked it, too.)
5. I managed to keep my live Christmas tree from last year and she’s still green. I will use that tree again unless I can coerce Bob into hiking through a tree farm. The problem with cutting a tree in south Texas is that you are wearing shorts and slaps and swatting mosquitos while you meander around the trees.
6. I will celebrate this time of love with the knowledge that this season is about so much more than gifts-even great gifts.