(thanks to Sandra Bouchard Dugas for the inspiration)
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories have already kicked into high gear to provide us with shiploads of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced without U.S. labor.
This year can be different. This year Americans can 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 / provided by American hands.
It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It's appropriate for anyone thinking about 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 plonking down the dollars on a Chinese made flat-screen or the latest game console? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or a few rounds at the local golf course.
There are innumerable locally-owned 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.
How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by hard-working Americans?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
Maybe you know someone whose computer could use a tune-up; you can surely find some young person who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
How grateful would your overly-stressed friends and relatives feel with a gift certificate for a massage?
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make soaps, jewelry, 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.
Remember, folks this isn't about supporting big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town merchants with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese 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 babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining U.S. pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about us, encouraging U.S. small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we can't imagine.
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.
This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about? BUY local - BE local - the job you save might be your own or that of someone you know.