At 5 a.m. this Friday, I was not to be found at any department store. I was sleeping "like a baby, endlessly rocking, gone from this world of cares," as Keith Donohue eloquently stated in his novel Angels of Destruction. I was not online after eating apple crisp Thanksgiving Day looking for deals on electronics, jewelry or apparel. An NBC News piece showed how you can take your over-priced gadget to the store and shop for even higher priced gadgets to get the best "deal." Even amid the Great Recession, upgrading from what we already have seems to be a national obsession.
Was Lucy on A Charlie Brown Christmas right - is Christmas run by a big Eastern syndicate?
Instead of running around a mall, I'm supporting the economy by....
Patronizing main street, independent restaurants, like Chapala Grill, in Bergenfield, New Jersey, which I picked to try for a belated birthday dinner my friend treated me to.
Feasting on vegetarian fajitas, $11.95, and a pineapple margarita, $6. We also took advantage of a 15% off coupon for the food items in the mail.
Giving business to the town cinema (this one in Westwood, New Jersey), which supplies jobs to local youths. In good times and bad, movies make a fun escape for all ages. Harry Potter: loved!
Donating to and shopping at charitable thrift shops (find one through ThriftShopper.com). While dropping off donations at a thrift shop of Housing Works, which helps homeless HIV-positive New Yorkers access medical services, housing, and employment, I picked up a brand new copy of Little House on the Prairie, a 6-disk season 1, for $18. I'll pass this on to a relative who so cherishes this show (as do I), not as a Christmas gift, but simply, "I saw this and thought of you at once gift."
Supporting animal friendly establishments, like New York City's all-vegan Blossom Cafe, where I dined after the Macy's Parade balloon inflation viewing.
Their seitan marsala: sautéed kale, roasted fennel, Yukon gold mash, mushrooms, and pan sauce, $21. A humane version of a dish more associated with chicken or veal. I shared the dish to off-set the high (for me) price of the entree.
I also shared their chocolate cake, $6: always a winner.
Supporting local food drives, like the one at my church. Find a local food bank through Feeding America. In Northern New Jersey, donate to the Center for Food Action.
Buying a charitable gift for a child in need. My church has an "Operation Santa Claus" program where you can purchase a gift (two gift suggestions are offered). I will be hitting Target to pick up the gift card that was requested - but to me, this is what holiday shopping is about - charity and children.
I also plan on attending a Colonial Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society; purchasing Sting's If on a Winter's Night cd at an independent, main street record shop; having a tea party to celebrate the winter solistice, and will mail checks to any of my favorite charitites I haven't yet given to this year.
Depriving the economy by not shopping till I drop at the mall? I don't think so.
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