I rarely open forwarded email, much less read it. I did both recently and was glad I did. It gave lots of suggestions for making Christmas merrier and more personal all the way around.
Instead of giving gifts this year of cheaply made goods from big retailers, manufactured by foreign factories, let's "think outside the box" and shop locally and support our friends and neighbors. Let's start by giving the gift of genuine concern for fellow Americans in general, and fellow Barry/Lawrence County neighbors in particular. Let's challenge each other to give nothing that is not produced by American workers. Let's avoid the Guatemalan-made shirt, folded inside the Mexican-made shirt box, wrapped in Chinese-made paper and ribbon.
How about a membership at the YMCA -- appropriate for all ages? Our area is full of Journeys graduates and others who would love to further health benefits for themselves and their families.
Everyone needs a hair cut; how about a gift certificate for a local barber or beauty shop?
Who wouldn't appreciate getting his or her car detailed? Local detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you an extravagant giver who thinks nothing of plunking down cash on a Chinese made flat-screen? Instead, perhaps your recipient would like his or her driveway sealed, lawn mowed for the summer, driveway plowed for the winter or rounds at the local golf course.
We have dozens of owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. What about a half dozen breakfasts at the local diner?
Christmas shouldn't be about national chains, but about supporting our hometown businesses whose lives are on the line, both in terms of the owners and the workers they hire. Let's set an example this year by giving gifts that make a difference on many fronts.
How many people could use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by a local working guy?
How about the services of a local cleaning lady for a day to give Mom a day off?
Most personal computers could use a tune-up from time to time, and there are any number of computer businesses in the area trying to keep body and soul together.
On the more personal side, how about local crafts people who spin their own wool and knit it into scarves, hats and socks, jewelery-makers, potters, woodworkers who make beautiful wooden boxes and artisans who make goat milk soap that smells and feels like heaven.
Plan holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. Musicians need love too, so visit venues showcasing local bands.
Christmas should not be draining American pockets so China can build another glittering city. Why not make THIS the new American Christmas tradition? Let's start a revolution of caring about each other. Isn't that what Christmas is all about? What better example can we set for the next generation?