Pass it along: A new American Christmas tradition

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:34

    As this holiday season finds us with our ever tightening belts to make ends meet, I remembered reading an article that really hit home with me. As a freelance photographer and graphic artist in Wantage, N.J., and a small business owner myself, this made a lot of sense in this struggling economy. So let me share it with you: New ideas for Christmas gift-giving: As the holidays approach, the giant foreign factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods - merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift-giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Oh, yes, there is! It is time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in foreign-produced 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? Small, locally owned detail shops and car washes 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 plunking down the Benjamins on a overseas produced flat-screen TV? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course. There are abundant 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 diner. Remember, folks this isn’t about big national chains - this is about supporting your home town neighbors 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 your 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. Honestly people, do you really need to buy another ten thousand lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or baby sitter a nice big tip. You see, Christmas is no longer about draining our pockets so that other countries can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US (our neighborhood, or community), encouraging our own small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And when we care about our fellow Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we could not imagine. This should be the new American Christmas tradition. Editor’s note: Our thanks to Nicki McManus for sharing this tract with the newspaper. Variations on this essay also can been found online in many places, posted on such diverse sites as, the and It appears adapted from a piece by David Evans on, a Journal of Southern Politics and Culture.