After reading something on Vee's blog yesterday, I thought I would paraphrase parts of it for my local friends. In fact, it is quite possible to make this international, in that we all focus on our own doorstep and the people in our own communities for a while in the time running up to Christmas. I am fiercely against any sort of national protectionism, though, because we live in big wide world and we all need each other.
This is more in line with the simplicity I long for in celebrating Christmas, and if we can make wise choices which benefit our little communities, and help save people's livelihoods, and put food on their tables, then that is all good.
The suggestion is that this year, instead of investing all our hard earned cash in shiny new objects made in far off places, we think a little about supporting our local craft people. Local businesses. There are so many talented people around, you know, with wonderful skills. This is the time of year they are selling their wares. There may still be time to commission something special as well.
Why not give the gift of a voucher for your local window cleaner, hairdresser, car wash, photographer, beauty parlour, coffee shop, butcher, garden service, cleaning lady, game of golf at a local course, theatre tickets, garden centre, toddler play gym...... the list is long, and once you start thinking about it, it gets longer still.
We live in dire financial times. The economies of the world have gone round the bend. I had my hair cut today (and Teresa did it beautifully) and yet the salon was quiet. She told me that so many people have stopped coming, and they get cancellations every day. She has a business to run, people to pay, they all have mortgages, work hard and need their jobs. One of the wonderful things you can have done is a special hair treatment which involves a head massage and is absolute bliss. It does not cost a lot, but what a great gift that would be. It includes having your hair dried.
Just next door is a beauty salon, where you could have all kinds of treatments. So how about making a gift of a manicure? A pedicure? The little luxuries that are hard to justify in the face of rigid budgets, but which make such a difference.
I am not going to go into detailed lists, but I am certain that there are small businesses in each of our towns which need more trade. And heaven knows we have enough of the shiny bits.
Christmas is not about getting things. It is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. And what did He tell us to do? To love our neighbour as ourselves (after the BIG one, of course - loving God with all our hearts). Loving our neighbour. Doesn't that mean caring and doing what we can to help them, to keep them afloat?
My Christmas list of gifts this year consists largely of home made things. Gifts from my home, my kitchen, my sewing room. It doesn't matter how small they may be. But if I am going to spend money, I would like to think that it would be for something which would benefit more than just the recipient. You know what I mean? Big chain stores get bigger by the day. But jobs are impossible to find, so using the skills of those who dare to dream and start their own businesses is the right thing to do.
Well, I think so anyway.
Day 17: I am so thankful for all the people who provide the services which add colour to my day right here in this village. From newsagents to baker, butcher to decorator, hairdresser to coffee shop owner, and so many more.