Peace on earth. Okay, that’s a given. The end to world hunger. A deeper understanding and tolerance of other cultural and religious traditions. I won’t go on because the goodwill messages are everywhere. We all have our personal wish lists. I love the way people reach out to each other this time of year. It’s not a bad start simply to wish that we would treat each other this kindly, this fairly all year.
Today, though, I was thinking about real material presents–and no, I’m not necessarily talking about quilts. I’m thinking about the ways we might support the small businesses and craftspeople we admire so much
For instance, with the economy worsening, who will go under first, the little mystery bookstore with staff who can answer any question we ask about classic mysteries and recommend novels they’ve read and loved? Or Amazon.com?
Is this a diatribe against Amazon? Of course not. I shop on the Internet with great joy, and have links to major booksellers including Amazon on my book pages. But for holiday gifts, my first stop isn’t the huge websites. I start with the smaller stores who also have online shopping. The independent bookstores. The cute little quilt shops.
Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont Pennsylvania, had the perfect gift for my mystery editor. I ordered it and they sent it out that day. Keepsake Quilting in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, had the perfect gift for my assistant Marna. And despite poor New England’s recent “power” struggles, that gift went out right away, as well. I try to send items made in Virginia and marketed by Virginia companies, and this year Virginia Born and Bred got my business. And what fun to be creative. I still love the little Canadian bakery who made a gingerbread house with the “address” from one of my novels to send my publisher. And the family who constructed a birdhouse for me to give my husband, using a photo of my Ohio home.
Times are hard, and they may get harder. What gift will comfort most without bankrupting us? Whom can we buy it from so that we’re supporting people, just like us, who only want to stay in business?
You won’t be surprised to learn I’m a huge fan of giving books for Christmas. Not just mine, but those of my fellow authors. This is a great time to sink into fantasy or savor real tales of courage and transformation. Lots of authors will send you autographed bookplates if you haven’t been lucky enough to get a book signed in person. Give them a try.
I’m buying less this year, but I’m buying carefully from the people I want most to support. I’m thankful for Macy’s and chain booksellers, who also get my business, but this time of year especially, I’m rooting for the little guy. I bet you are, as well.