Over the last 9 months, I’ve written many posts that haven’t been shared. This year has been such a rollercoaster of emotions, sensitivities and challenges that no words seem to say enough. However, my recent pursuit of an ethical, charitable, lower-impact Christmas has presented several empathy-evoking experiences that are worth sharing.
In the quest to find workshops, lessons and other engaging gifts, I was confronted with the suffering of several small business owners. As I reached out to gather information about schedules, payments and plans, their hesitation was clear. After exchanging a series of emails, one small business owner who offers computer coding and gaming classes for kids, wrote with an apology and sad news. She could not allow me to purchase a gift certificate because she did not expect she and her husband would still be in business after the holidays. Although she said she was ‘hopeful’ about an upcoming meeting with the landlord, her fear and grief were palpable. She would be in touch if there was good news...It’s been a week with no news.
Another situation found a local martial arts instructor wavering. Having given up a rented space, and now sharing space at the local youth club, she was willing to sell a gift certificate but fearful the club will soon close. Her uncertainty made clear in a refund guarantee should the club close and again leave her no opportunity to resume business as usual.
Other businesses have given up in-person instruction and are attempting to exist in the virtual world...a daunting task considering everyone from 5 to 55 is pretty well ‘Zoomed’ out. Many awesome local businesses and great engaging gift ideas became more casualties of the year of misery. My efforts resulted in frustration and a greater sense of grief...so many are suffering so much.
A few days of wallowing then the search resumed. Determined, the focus switched to items I intended to purchase. Searching for ethical and sustainable companies selling the goods on my list was thankfully easier than expected. The prices were consistent with my expectations and there were even some sales despite the hardships. Also, many businesses including some new discoveries offered one-4-one deals where your purchase benefits others by an in-kind donation… everything from bars of soap, and pairs of socks, to nursing scrubs and best-selling books. I don’t want to give it all away in case any recipients are reading this but I’m sharing a list below of companies that were part of my process this season.
So here’s where I am this St. Nicholas day…. The sorrows of this year are certainly enough to make a heart heavy but amidst the chaos, looking for good...and finding so much of it, has restored some sense of peace and renewed a bit of hope in the season designed for doing just that. All we can do is what we can do...take care of each other, practice kindness, and seek empathy knowing that small things can make a big difference especially if we all work together.
Shops for thought...
Grounds for Hounds… coffee & gear
Pip & Lola’s… homemade soaps
Darn Good Yarn… yarn and recycled Sari skirts
The Artful Mitten… upcycled sweater mittens (Etsy)
Half-Price Books… second-hand books and more
ShannonsHatWeb… knit character hats (Etsy)
Holstee… journals and more inspiring holistic living
JamOnRy… totes, pet bandanas and more (Etsy)
Conscious Step… socks
Monica & Andy… baby gear
Ten Thousand Villages… global ethical trade items
SERRV… global ethical trade items