A wise man once said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.”

by Sunshine & Vanilla

I don’t really start thinking about Christmas shopping until the week of Thanksgiving. In fact, I sort of refuse to start thinking about it until the week of Thanksgiving.

Three weeks ago my lovely sister-in-law sent me a list of things one of my nieces wants for Christmas and I rebuffed her. It wasn’t even November yet!  No way!  No lists! Everything was automatically vetoed. I wasn’t ready to start thinking about it. Never mind Macy’s already had Holiday Lane up at the beginning of October.  Or that CVS had the Hallmark ornaments up in September.  Let them start their brainwashing early.  I wasn’t buying into it.  I wasn’t ready.

It’s not that I’m Grinchy, though I’ve been accused of such. In fact, it wasn’t so many years ago someone gifted me a matching set of Grinch boxers, t-shirt, and some of the coziest (if not most horrific looking) green Grinch slippers you’ve ever seen.  I just think the whole shopping materialistic craziness has gotten out of control.

Okay, all that stuff aside, let’s get on with the real reason for my post.  Christmas shopping.

This year I have decided I am going to try to purchase 100% of my holiday gifts from independent, American, retailers.

I have often been one of those people who says we should support our local businesses.  I like to purchase gifts from the small “mom & pop” shops on the little main street in my hometown, or the main drag in the town just north of my town.  I like the quirky shops where you walk in and you’re greeted by the person who actually owns the store.  I love wandering into my local record store where the guy behind the counter remembers the music I listened to twenty years ago (even if it’s not the music I listen to anymore).  You’re not going to find that in a major retailer. Heck, you’re lucky if you find the same salesperson there twice in a week.

I’m not going to lie or be a complete hypocrite. I do like some of my major retailers and some of the perks that come with them.  Sure, it’s fun to wander through a small shop and run my fingers across all the merchandise, pick it up and look at it. But it’s also fun to lounge around on my sofa in with my hair all a mess and shop in my pajamas from my laptop.  And, let’s all be honest, it can be easier to find deals online or in major retailers (though independent stores or places like Etsy often have incredibly great prices).

Shopping locally or independently will be a breeze for some of the people on my list.  It often guarantees a unique gift that the recipient will absolutely love and adore.  But, conversely, for some of the more difficult people on my list, people who have very specific things that they want, it creates a very precarious shopping experience.  Some people on my list want what they want and won’t like anything else.  And trust me, the things they want are brand name items, often clothing, and they are known for returning anything that does not fall into the very specific list they provide.  Problems will abound when the things I pick out for them are difficult to return. Say, for example, if they are purchased on Etsy, the Renegade Craft Fair, or an independent retailer in a city 40 miles away.  Principles are principles, however, and they may just have to deal with it.  Of course I will do my best to pick out something I would hope that they would love, but deviating from a list is always a gamble. Then again, they can always regift.

There are pros and cons to both sides of the issue, just as there are to any issue.  And, just like any issue, the decision, if there is a decision to be made at all, really comes down to personal preference and what you feel in your heart is right.

This year in particular we have all be inundated with so much political rhetoric about the state of our economy, the shipping of American jobs overseas, the hits our businesses have been taking, as well as, you know, a whole host of other things.  I did what people say was “my part,” I went to the polls and cast my vote.  But I don’t feel like it was enough.  So I want to do more.  I want to put my money where my vote was.

I want to DO what I SAID.  I want to SHOW what I SAID.  I want my ACTIONS to SPEAK.

So I’m going to shop at home. I’m going to support my local guys. I’m going to stick to the small stores. I’m going to step into the stores I see struggling. I’m going to stroll the streets where I see too many “for rent” signs populating empty windows. I’m going to do my part to support the people in the communities I love.

I’m going to BE THE CHANGE.