Diamond-Cut Life

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Diamond-Cut Christmas Shopping

December 20th, 2011 by Alison · No Comments · community

It’s early Tuesday morning, Christmas is Sunday, and I have Christmas gifts to buy. “What a last-minute shopper!” my carpool partner Cory grinned last night on the ride home.

“This is on time,” I returned indignantly. “Last minute would be the day of Christmas Eve.”

As you would guess, diamond-cut Christmas shopping lives outside the box. Especially, outside of  big box stores.

My brother Mick is at the top of my shopping list. He’s flying up on Friday from Orange County in Southern California, and being a nurturing sister,  I asked him day before yesterday (a full WEEK before Christmas) for gift ideas. He said that since he just moved into a cool new apartment he’d like things for it, like placemats, nice salt and pepper shakers, a calendar, and maybe a wall clock. “Like from Target,” he added helpfully.

For one thing, you can see Mick isn’t asking for big-ticket items. The backstory (everything has a backstory) is that the family we grew up in wasn’t very materialistic. Gifts were modest, like record albums, books and clothes we needed anyway, but they felt like plenty. And recreation for us wasn’t skiing, but rather, games like charades and 20 Questions.

But what I’m noticing this morning is that Target was at the top of his mind as the place to buy Christmas gifts. And, surely if lowest possible price was all I cared about, Target is where I’d buy him a wall clock, and placemats, etc.

More than cheap, though,  I care about  small business owners who need to make a living. So when I go Christmas shopping this afternoon, I’m not going to Mall 205, home of Target and other big box stores, but to Mirador, a lovely, bustling, locally owned store that’s two miles away from our house. I’ll find great gifts there for Mick and his new apartment. And on the day of Christmas Eve, Thor and I might take Mick to Saturday Market, where we could together shop for a unique gift and give our money directly to the artist who made it. Like in the olden days.

And speaking of the olden days, in 1993 I had my own booth at Saturday Market from which I sold my handmade journals and art cards. I froze my butt off for hours a day, day after day, thrilled by every single purchase a shopper made from me. You have no idea how powerful your purchase from an artist is. It’s a statement that tells the artist to keep working and following her dream.

My friend Christina emailed me the below piece that’s chockfull of gift ideas, some that have never occurred to me. I asked who to attribute it to, but it came from a series of forwards that had unfortunately left off the name of the author off. Many thanks to the thoughtful person who penned it. Apologies for formatting problems (Techno-Dork strikes again. That’s me.)


It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in foreign-made wrapping paper?

Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates
from your local hair salon or barber

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some
health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed or bicycle tuned up? Small, locally owned
car washes and bike shops would love to sell you a gift certificate or a
book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down
the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift
receiver would like his  lawn mowed for the summer
, or
driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering 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 home town
Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, done at a shop run by a local working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a
local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is
struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin
their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and 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 ballet at
your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

There’s the matter of Christmas decoration. Do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese
lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about
fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to
burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

We can decide that Christmas is now about supporting our local economies, encouraging small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about local people working to make a living, and invest our dollars in them, the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.
THIS can be the new Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list — post it to discussion
groups — throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in
your city — send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations,
and TV news departments. If we choose, we can create a revolution of caring about each other.
We can decide that that is what Christmas is about.

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