Left Justified: Christmas 2011: Birth of a new tradition
By Stanley Campbell
Every year about this time, I give suggestions for holiday shopping that won’t hurt anyone. This year, I am including in my usual suggestions — some that I ripped off the Internet. And no, I do not know the origin. I found these all over, from Tea Party to Socialists. Good ideas have no parent.
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply-produced goods. This year, let’s do our shopping differently.
Instead of a Chinese-made flat-screen, perhaps the grateful gift receiver would like his/her lawn mowed for the summer or driveway plowed all winter. You can put someone to work instead of doing it yourself, and save your loved one’s back.
Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about health improvements.
Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American-owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate.
The second idea is to shop nonprofit: Goodwill and the nonprofit thrift stores recycle what normally ends up in landfills. Support fair-trade missions like SERRV and 10,000 Villages, church bazaars and rummage sales help worthwhile projects and have great prices. JustGoods fair trade store at 201 Seventh St. (open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesdays-Saturdays for your holiday shopping pleasure) is nonprofit and sells fairly-traded gifts — the best of both worlds.
But, what to get for that uncle who has everything? Why not donate cash in his name to a favorite charity? Maybe he likes animals, so give to Noah’s Ark. Does your aunt like walks in the park? Then contribute memberships to Natural Land Institute, Severson Dells or Klehm Arboretum.
Crusader Community Health is my favorite medical facility, and a donation in the loved one’s name is a fine gift. In fact, many organizations deserve our help. So, give a gift that reflects the spirit of the season. Instead of looking for expensive geegaws or clothing made in sweatshops, try to find an expression of love for those who need it the most.
A bazillion owner-run restaurants all offer gift certificates. And, if your intended 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 hometown Americans to keep their doors open.
How many people could use an oil change for their vehicle done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day. My computer uses the services of a local repairman for a tune-up — that would make a great gift.
If you are looking for something more personal, local crafters spin their own wool and knit scarves (ask for Molly at JustGoods). Your neighbors also make jewelry, pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or musical performance at your hometown theater (i.e., Charlotte’s Web). Musicians need love, too, so support venues showcasing locals.
This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what Christmas is about? ’Tis the season.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the Nov. 23-29, 2011, issue