This year, take a stand against the powers that be by refusing to participate in their holiday game. The presidential election seems to have been rigged but we can still vote with our wallets.
Before you go and load up your cart at Wal-mart, Best Buy and the other big box stores, pause and consider the economy. Are you stimulating the national economy by shopping at Home Depot or Linens ‘n’ Things? Take a moment to think about who benefits from this shopping spree you have planned for Friday.
The minimum wage employees who work there? Nope, they just get hit with working crazy hours and missing out on family time, receiving no bonuses for the sales, just their “working-poor” slave wage.
The Americans who manufacture the items you are purchasing?
revealed that more than 85% of the goods sold at Wal-Mart originated overseas. These products are made in sweat shops in the Third World, many by children.
The owners of the big box store you are purchasing from? Hardly. First of all, there are no local “owners.”These enormous conglomerates are corporations, not people. Best Buy, for example, is the largest electronics seller in the United States. They purchase in such vast quantity that smaller stores can’t even purchase their products for the price that Best Buy is able to sell them at, effectively making the small business model obsolete as customers frantically seek to pay the lowest possible price.
This year, change the way you shop by supporting your local businesses. Look to local artisans, crafters and farmers to purchase unique, high-quality gifts.
Some possible shopping outlets:
- Craft stores
- Bead stores (they nearly always have lovely handmade jewelry for sale)
- Farmer’s markets (a lovely fruit basket is always appreciated)
- Local bakeries, creameries and meat shops
- Tiny local shops containing the work of local artists
- Amish furniture stores
- Craft shows and marketplaces
- Gift certificates for local salons and spas
- Antique Stores
- Plants from a local greenhouse
- Gift certificates for a locally owned restaurant
- Make gifts of your own using locally sourced ingredients or supplies
You get the idea – keep the dollars in your community!
A friend refuted this idea with the argument that her teen expected the latest I-pod/phone/contraption. To this I respond: Your teen needs to change his or her expectations. Easier said than done, I know. (Yes, I have 2 teenagers.) I have been blessed with good-natured kids who have been taught frugality their entire lives.
It would be very different if I had to change their viewpoint at this late date. However, I think it can be done.
Parents seem reluctant to talk to their kids about money and then when the child reaches adulthood and gets slammed with the reality of bills, they are utterly in shock and easy prey to the credit card companies that stalk young people at our college campuses.
Some ideas to make the transition to a local Christmas with your kids:
- Focus on activities and traditions instead of gifts. Go for a walk or drive through the neighborhood to look at lights, get into your PJs and watch a special movie together on Christmas Eve and make certain treats that can always be expected.
- For younger children, read books like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. My children were fascinated with the holiday experienced by the Ingalls family, in which the girls in the book received a hand made gift, a peppermint stick and an orange on Christmas morning. This chapter was a read-aloud story for many years in our household.
- Lower your own expectations. I hate to break it to you, but if you, as the mom or dad, expect a new car with a big red bow in the driveway, or a $500 tool set, or a diamond ring, or…..well, you get the picture. Lead by example.
- Promote a handmade Christmas. One very “broke” year, we made all of our gifts except for one per person. We made all of our decorations too, from things found in nature and recycled items around the house. My heart was warmed recently when my children asked to do this again.
- Help someone with less than you have. Each year, we participate in an adopt-a-family or adopt-an-angel program. My children seem to get more out of making a holiday special for another child than they do out of making endless lists of things they want and “need” for themselves.
- If yours is a religious family, focus on the “reason for the season.” (Hint – that wasn’t a wide-screen TV hovering over the stable!)
Opt out of the Black Friday insanity. Keep things simple this year and help keep your neighbors in business.