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Letter: Christmas 2011 - Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods —merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

 This year I hope will be different. This year Americans should give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at Christmas, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

 It’s time to think outside the box. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

 Everyone – yes, everyone, gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon, or barber?

 Gym or yoga club membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

 Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American-owned detail shops, and car washes, would love to sell you a gift certificate, or a book of gift certificates.

 Or are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the “Benjamins” on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

 There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half-dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your hometown Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

 How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

 Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day. Or even a local masseuse!

 My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

 OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Many are available, reasonably, at your nearest state park.

 Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.

 You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets and seeing our hard-earned wages go outside the country. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities ... and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

 This is the new American Christmas tradition. Enjoy family get-togethers, church services, caroling, as in past Christmases ... but put more emphasis on the Reason for the Season ... and less on material gifts.

Nancy Furlong