Anne Horrigan Geary: Shop small, shop local

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DALTON — Now that the dream turkey, all nicely-browned and stuffed, has turned into a nightmare of a carcass, cooks everywhere are scrambling. After the turkey croquettes and turkey tetrazzini are served, there is only one thing left to do. Dump the bones in a stock pot with assorted veggies and let it boil merrily away into soup while everyone ramps up their energy for the frenzied marathon called Christmas shopping.

Retailers are telling us we have fewer days shopping this year because of the late date of Thanksgiving, but I am thankful for that very fact. Now there are less days to stress, less days to play parking-space roulette at the shopping centers, and definitely less time to enrich the coffers of Jeff Bezos at Amazon, who obviously doesn't need it, if the Forbes list of wealthiest people is to be believed.

Following a day of being grateful for our blessings, I find irony in the immediate 180-degree shift to greed. Too many people have their hands out: kids who are screen-washed into "needing" the latest electronic gizmos and games are the worst. Parents are coerced into buying more gifts or more expensive gifts than they can afford because they fear disappointing their kids. Too many people get stuck in the gifting vortex: buy more, give more, get more, etc. Every shopper laments the act of shopping, rushing headlong from store to store to get the latest deals; but they still get up in the middle of the night — with their Thanksgiving dinner barely digested — to get to the head of the shopping line at Walmart.

If you have to buy presents for your nearest and dearest, as well as the co-workers who make your nine-to-five bearable, I hope you enjoyed a stress-free Friday playing Monopoly with your kids and start to shop today. American Express ironically named the day Small Business Saturday a few years back, but the idea is a great one nonetheless.

There are as many reasons to shop small and shop local as there are small businesspeople who depend on you for their very survival. Purveyors of food come to mind first because their locally raised and crafted products are fresh, wholesome, and create the smallest carbon footprint. Local veggies still abound at the monthly and holiday farmers' markets. More and more farmers are providing meat products. Local cheeses are among some of the best in the country, and the varieties are growing exponentially.

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There is local beer, local wine, and even local spirits. Personally, I'll take a glass of hearty apple cider from the orchard down in Richmond. Sending a box of local apples to family who have moved away is a wonderful holiday remembrance which could easily become a yearly tradition.

For non-food gifts, you need to look no farther than the local craft fairs, hosted this week and for the next several weeks at school halls and parish centers around the county. Local craftspeople (of which I am one) toil for months with knitting needles, sewing machines, wood lathes, and stoves to produce unique and delightful wares. Creatively blessed, they are anxious to share the fruits of their labor with appreciative and discriminating shoppers. The money they earn is immediately reinvested in the community to buy food and supplies as well as merchandise from other vendors.

Many local artists and artisans have permanent locations to display their wares. Also, consider giving gift cards for services. Many local shops have classes to give folks the opportunity to make their own gift. You can give a gift of fitness, beauty, cookies, or the ultimate gift —a charitable donation to a community resource. Many of us who already have too much stuff are grateful for the gift of donations in our name to local charities, and you don't have to wrap them.

Whatever you choose to give, give it freely, from the heart with joy, and the spirit of the season will flourish as it has since that very first gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.


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