I've already written about both Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day this year, as well as the brand new phenomenon of GivingTuesday. Today I'm driving to Connecticut to chop down a tree for my apartment and I've already bought the flight home for Christmas.
It's holiday season, baby, and I'm in full swing.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the likes of Bill O'Reilly are at it too, again trumpeting the defensive in their mythical War On Christmas. But thank God that John Stewart is always there to level his poignant critique, not so much taking up arms in the War On Christmas as much as the War on Stupidity and Fearmongering.
But knowing Santa's penchant for bringing gifts to well-behaved boys and girls (I always make the "nice" list), I've posted the following holiday wish list on my blogs the past few years. Lest Santa forget what kinds of gifts I prefer, here it is again. I hope that it will inspire others to adopt a similar model!
- I like the FAIR TRADE model best. By far. Such items are made in the same developing countries [as the gifts you typically get me] but they are made by people who are guaranteed fair wages and humane work conditions. You can find fairly traded items - clothes, toiletries, jewelry, games, even musical instruments - at fair trade stores and/or online. One great trick is to search "sweat free _______" on google. Just fill in the blank with whatever item you think would be ideal for the recipient.
- SECOND-HAND is second best. If you can't afford fair trade (ethical considerations are indeed more expensive) then aim low. Buy second hand. There are great stores that sell like-new clothes (Plato's Closet comes to mind). You may also get lucky at a Goodwill, Salvation Army, or even a garage sale [...] I also dig hand-me-downs.
- Buy local! Support your local artisans and merchants, designers, soap makers, musicians, luthiers, carpenters, welders...
- If there's no way to ensure that an item was made under ethical conditions, then buy American! There's no guarantee that American factories are doing it right either, but it's certainly more likely. Check the tag to make sure it was made in the USA, at least I'll know you tried.
- Consider utility and space. I live in NYC (!!!). So ask yourself, "does Gio really need this?" If you still can't figure it out, then just call and ask. Perhaps your tongue was in your cheek when you gave me soap and deodorant [last] year. I can appreciate a good joke, but I can appreciate utility even more! You rightly guessed that these are items I do not buy often and on principle. Yet I can and will use them simply because they are useful (helps that they were made in the USA ;) I've also appreciated the various musical instruments over the years. That's one thing I'll always make room for!
- Consider the environment. Avoid plastic and styrofoam and shoot for products made from recycled materials wherever possibe. Upon buying the item(s) let the clerk know that you don't need a plastic bag. [And don't worry about my hygiene this year, I'm all stocked up on soap, shampoo and deodorant]
- Be creative, not compulsive. Don't just buy me anything. If you must buy me something, make it something meaningful (if you've bought something with the above considerations in mind, then mission accomplished!) And if you're still struggling, then please don't feel pressured to buy anything at all! Create something. Say something. Take me somewhere (it need not cost anything)... Or just play board games with me.