Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's Christmas Time



Tonight was my first foray into Christmas shopping for the season. My friend Angie and I made plans to have a girls night out and braved the mall scene.

I rarely go to to mall here in town. Not because it doesn't have a lot of options, but because I prefer to shop at local places or smaller specialty stores. Much to my surprise and delight, Grow Nebraska is now renting space at the mall. Their mission "is to maximize the state’s entrepreneurial and small business spirit. " I have a few friends who are part of Grow Nebraska, and have nothing but the highest of compliments about how it's helped them in their business.

Angie was looking for a couple of things - a $10 gender-neutral grab bag gift (They are celebrating at Thanksgiving this year, so she's starting early) and a gift for her grandmother, a woman she describes as "having everything". I struggle with gifts like these, so I wasn't much help to her. A $10 gender neutral gift isn't easy to find no matter who you are, but especially for Angie and I, because we are both believers in the practical side of gift giving. We were both excited at the thought of finding something at Grow Nebraska, because even if the gift is a "throw-away" kind of gift, at least you are supporting a local business man or woman.

Some people might consider my attitude "hippie-like", but I don't have a problem with gift-giving at Christmas time. I don't think it's un-Christ-like, I don't think God's against it. In fact, he probably supports it. After all, he gave his own son as a gift to us at Christmas time. And if it takes a national holiday to get people to be generous one day out of the year, maybe it will lead to generosity one week, one-month, or every day of the year. (In fact, the Christmas program I'm directing at church this year as a sketch that illustrates this very point.) So I'm not against gifts; they are a wonderful things. I just happened to believe giving gifts that are special and unique for the person, or in practical gifts that one can use, because honestly? I already have enough "stuff" around me.

Check to see if your state has a program like Grow Nebraska to help support local commerce. Or look for a 10,000 Villages store in your area. They are a fair-trade store working with artisans all over the world. Their retail employees all work on a volunteer basis in order to keep overhead costs down, so they can provide a fair trade with the artists they work with. I've found many wonderful and unique gifts there. Their products are well-priced, and they have a great selection. There isn't a room in my house that does have something from that store in it -it's all very cool stuff.

Call me a hippie. I'd rather be that than a yuppie.

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