Saturday, November 28, 2009

What's your code? The Christmas challenge, part 3

In the decidedly un-Christmassy (but excellent) HBO series, The Wire, characters Bunk and then Omar had this mantra: A man's gotta have a code.

So as I plunge into the holiday season this year, I ask myself, what's my code? How will my values be reflected in my spending choices?
Here is my informal checklist. With my gift-giving this year, I want to:
  • Give things to those who need them.

  • Give time, affection, hospitality to those who do not need stuff.

  • Try to support local businesses, artisans, farmers.

  • Will my purchase support a good cause?

  • Think quality. What items will last to be used again vs what will end up in a landfill.?
  • Can I repurpose existing goods?

  • Will my gifts be a nice treat, provide creative or intellectual stimulation? Will they keep someone warm?

  • Will the recipient enjoy the gift or feel burdened by it?

  • Can I be a wise steward of our family finances or will my heart sink in January when the bills come in?

Armed with my code, I set out today to do some shopping. Here's where I went:

  • to three garage sales (made purchases at two)
  • one consignment shop (did not buy anything)
  • three thrift shops (made modest purchases at each)
  • to a very good used book store (bought four books -cough - not necessarily all as gifts.)
I stuck to my code. I purchased from local businesses, I have an eye to repurposing some of the items I bought, I have not sent money overseas, I have not added to the waste stream, and I spent very little money.
Mission accomplished.
Note: One bonus at Old Saratoga Books is Sam, the store cat, who will quite happily sit on your lap while you browse through a book. Much better shopping experience than long lines at the mall.
Photo credits go to Old Saratoga Books, from their website and blog.