Reflections - Is it too early to talk about Christmas?

Eleanor Deckert

I know, I know - it's only mid-November; maybe a little early to be talking about Christmas (dare I say it?) shopping!

The stores are ready! Our wallets are pressured to open and spend. Bombarded by TV and other media, eager children, family customs, magazine hints and tips... we have a zillion options swirling for attention, shouting for prominence, jockeying for position.

We have the world at our fingertips like no time before: on-line shopping and methods of payment and shipping mean less foot-weary trips to the Mall. I could scroll to browse dazzling arrays of merchandise and unlimited options. Every wish could come true.

Toys and clothing and other merchandise linked to TV and movies is off my list. I have no intention of listening to children clamouring for franchised items. Glamour and status symbols are out. I don't want to compete. Wishing for things I cannot afford left my mind long ago. Coveting what others have is not part of my mental framework. If I have to throw away something which is still functional to make room for a new replacement item... what am I thinking? The landfill and Christmas don't really go together!

Back in October (while my mind was still clear) I pledged to buy only local, and preferably handmade gifts this year.

So what actions do I intend to take and decisions am I prepared to make? Since I usually shop in Clearwater, I have scouted out my target vendors.

With cash in hand, I know of three places to shop where every item is hand crafted. The Aboriginal Sharing Centre in Clearwater (on The Flats near the Post Office) has shelves and hooks and display cases full of jewelry and cards, music and ornaments made with traditional materials and skills.

Kathy's Market (across the street from the Times newspaper office) features wooden shelves, nooks and window displays laden with knitting, quilting, paintings, glass work, clothing, cards, paper, pet and beauty products, jewelry, local authors and specialty foods.

The Red Umbrella (in the same building with Kathy's Market on the Old North Thompson Highway) is a treasure trove of art works. Paintings, felting, baby items, winter wear, pottery, baskets, woodwork, you name it, something beautiful has been made with clay, fibre, glass, wood, paint... oh, and chocolate! Feast your eyes. Bring your piggy bank. Once-in-a-lifetime art works are looking for a home.

Why would I buy a factory-made item mass produced overseas? Why would I support a TV show or movie when I have neighbours with talent pouring from their fingertips?

Christmas Craft Fairs are annual excellent places to take the “Made Locally Pledge.” You will find greeting cards, photo frames, Christmas decor, tree ornaments, baked goodies, unusual crafts, fine crafts, funny crafts, re-purposing crafts. It's like visiting Santa's Workshop!

Along with dedication to “organic” and “shop local” and other “green” shopping priorities another trend is “Vote with your dollars.”

The site greenamerica.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-vote-your-dollar states:

“Here are our tips for feeling good about not just the great thing you got, but the businesses you support as you Vote With Your Dollars.

Every time you buy at a local business, you tell the world your community is worth more than a big-box store sale.

Every time you buy organic, you tell the world you want more farmers to grow healthy, safe food.

Every time you buy certified fair trade, you fight poverty.

Every time you buy from a business owned by women or people of colour, you help build an inclusive economy.

Every time you don’t buy something, you tell the world you don’t need more stuff to have a good life.”

    

The Nicest Gift – by Regina Sauro

The gift you give to another

Need not be a costly thing,

If you have tied some love inside

Before you tie the string.

Personally, I choose to buy or make Christmas cards that depict some part of the story of the birth of Christ. No thank you, I am not going to send copies of snoozing kittens, ridiculous cartoons, stylized nature, jolly Santa, Victorian abundance or frosty winter scenes. It is hard to search until I find: shepherds and angels, wise men and stars, a stable with a newborn baby, the Mother and Child.

I have decided to vote with my dollars, conscious of who made what I am buying, and whether or not each purchase strengthens or begins to snuff out the Good News of Jesus’ birth.