Monday, November 30, 2009

on gifting

This is the time of year when we are not sure if we're heroes or villains.

Everything around us says "buy! buy! buy!" and if we are honest, we are saying it, too. It's the time of year when we are best able to get these beautiful things off the shelves and into homes. And pay the mortgage. We are idealistic and pragmatic. So in some ways, we are part of the Holiday Consumer Machine. The "show your love with stuff" machine.

We like to think of ourselves as more than just a cog, though. Or rather, we are a cog in a different kind of machine.

Last year we proudly supported the Handmade Pledge. It echoed much of our own reasoning - and gave good incentive for shopping at places like Left Bank. What's not to like?

To some extent, we also supported the No Buy campaign. Which might be considered self-defeating.

We say "no" to commercial gifts that an advertising mechanism says we need to buy. We say "no" to the "more is more" mentality and the culture of waste. We say "no" to being sold a bill of goods that benefits no one in the long term.

That said, we have no desire to shut down the whole gift-giving culture. Not only would we be shooting ourselves in the foot, but we like getting and giving presents just as much as the next guy. Giving makes us feel good. Helping other people give makes us feel good, too. We love finding the perfect gift instead of the panic gift.

Intentionally or unintentionally, we are all voting with our dollars this season. When you buy from a store that supports American craft, you are giving your money to people all over the country who spend their lives making things just a little more human. The medium AND the message are completely different from what we're being sold commercially.

It's probably obvious where our votes are being cast. And judging from the fact that you've read this far, we're probably preaching to the choir. (You sing beautifully, btw.)

Let's work together this year to bring joy, generosity and good will back into the spotlight. It's been overshadowed by profit for too long.

Let's be heroes.


Jett Superior said...

Oh, Susan, I'm so glad to find that these are your beliefs, because my own have started hedging this way in the last four to five years.

Year before last I took the handmade pledge as well and every birthday, shower and 'treat' gift this year has been made by myself or an artist local or Etsy.

....and you know what? Never have they been so fawned over and enjoyed! It's crazy how people can sense the heart infused into an item even before they ask, 'Where did you get this?' There are a couple of electronics gifts floating by for birthdays in the next couple of months, but all the rest are handmade!

Bev ~ MangoTango Designs said...

Beautiful post ... and it goes straight to my heart!

I'd rather own one beautifully handcrafted gift than a thousand commercial items and know that someone with artistry and vision stands behind that work.

Happy Holidays to those wise people who know the difference!