As the mother of a toddler, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to do the majority of my Christmas shopping online. How did our mothers manage it dragging multiple kids to the department stores this time of year?? Come to think of it, I have many memories of playing hide and go seek with my siblings underneath the clothing racks, and even a few memories of strangers yelling at me because of it. Maybe my mom was more tolerant than I.
Whether buying in a store or online, this year I am challenged to consider the full cost of what I buy. The full cost. In this season of Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays we get excited about some super deals. But I have been reminded that when I buy an item that is super cheap, somewhere someone else is paying the extra cost. How can you make, deliver, and sell a shirt for 5 dollars? It doesn't really bother my conscience that much if an item is cheap because Corporate America is selling at a loss. But if the shirt is cheap because women or children somewhere are making $2 a day in conditions that I can't even dream of, then I am caused to stop a moment and consider what I support by buying that item.
We have a local organization called Trade as One. They are on a mission to rid the world of poverty one person at a time. Every item they sell is made by someone who would otherwise be making a living by prostitution, slavery, or something similar. Trade as One gives men and women a chance to break the enslaving bondage of poverty by providing them with a job. A job is even better than a donation because it creates a sustainable way of life.
Trade as One has the basic philosophy that every dollar we spend is like a vote that we cast for a product. If you don't like what a product stands for, then why would you vote for it? I like the idea that I can buy something (that I was going to buy anyway) and know that given the opportunity, I would legitimately vote for that product. My intention was to write this post earlier so that you might have a chance to check the shop out before Christmas. That didn't happen, but you can still take a peek!
We bought this hand-crocheted nativity scene from the Trade as One church display. It conveniently doubles as a child-friendly toy. Annike's favorites are the angel, and Baby Jesus of course. This time of year, nativity scenes are rich with representation, telling the birth story of Jesus who came to rid the world of its own sort of Spiritual poverty. He came to earth in humility in order to give us hope. He asked only that we would be a source of hope for others, giving to them as He has given so generously to us.
Spending money seems inevitable this time of year, and I am the first to admit that it is oh so much easier to grab a gift off the shelf than to think about where it came from. This Christmas season we don't have it all figured out, but I am approaching gift-buying with the idea that every vote counts. I have attempted to buy locally made, handmade, or fair trade items from smaller shops that do not make their profit by exploiting those who are already quite poor. It has not been possible with every gift, but even replacing one gift with an item that stands for something honorable makes a difference. Maybe we can change the world one present at a time.