When it comes to holiday shopping, there really isn’t any disagreement: We all know what’s the right thing to do.
The problem is, it’s become increasingly harder to do it.
It’s ridiculously easy to shop online. All of the concerns we used to drum up, like credit card theft, for example, have been by and large alleviated. Online retailers have made it easy to return merchandise. They have great prices, low credit card interest rates, and overnight delivery.
We get the argument that as consumers in a free trade democracy, we have a right to shop for the best prices for our hard-earned dollars. That’s indisputable and we need to stop pretending otherwise. The big guy has the better deal.
It’s the big picture that we’re overlooking. We’re overlooking our sister-in-law who works at the hardware store and our cousins over at the furniture store warehouse. We’re forgetting that guy who is paying thousands of dollars in rent because he always dreamed of having a shop on Main Street. We’re forgetting all of our merchants who stand behind what they sell, who ask how our dog is, and who can find a spot for an intern when our kid is 16 and needs to fill up his or her resume for college.
We are missing the fact that, minus the hoity-toity labels we throw around during the summer — and the glossy weeklies pushing $50,000 wristwatches — we are small town America. We are living the lives almost everyone else in the world covets: a chance to raise our kids in a beautiful place, and if we work really hard, put food on the table, nurture them, and watch them take their places in the world.
Some will grow up and honor our forefathers by joining the military. Some will volunteer for the fire department. Some, angry, will rail against the injustice society still harbors, and that’s OK, too. We are free. They’ve been raised to know it’s OK to speak their mind without fear of reprisal.
Buy local. Spend the extra buck for a gift. Whatever it is you can get online, you can probably find right here in these parts. If you feel the prices are too high, discuss it with the proprietor: Why am I paying extra? Why should I buy it here?
Chances are, you’ll get the right answer. “Because my son is in your daughter’s French class. Because I offer free repairs for the first 90 days after purchase. Because I contribute what I can to the Presbyterian Church every Sunday.”