Nov 19, 2007

Socially Responsible Gift-Giving Begins at Home

After years of trying to convince my family that I don't need any holiday gifts -- including all my protests that my house is too small for more stuff, that buying things I don't need is just a waste of precious resources, and more -- I've finally given up. They seem to just love to wrap stuff and put it under the tree.

But, there's progress to report. I've gotten them to agree to "guidelines." (I know, this sounds awfully authoritarian for the joyful world of gift-giving, but that last box of tchotchkes pushed me to the wall.)

I've asked that all gifts to me -- and gifts I buy for others -- be purchased from either a nonprofit, an individual artist or craftperson, or a thrift store. That should allow for plenty of wrapped items under the tree, while doing some social good at the same time.

Now I just have to abide by the rules myself! I'm off to a good start with my dad. (Dad, ifParrot quilt you're reading this, stop now.) I found a nice-looking Ralph Lauren tie at a thrift store for $1.36, with tax. I'm sure he won't be offended, since he was making wisecracks about taking the paintings off their walls and wrapping them for me. The upcoming KPFA crafts fair -- from which the quilt image at the right comes -- should take care of the rest of the family.

And here's a late-breaking confession: I've already started issuing caveats. Like socks. I need them, and not from a thrift store. And a friend pointed out to me that books from independent booksellers should count -- in fact, you can get a gift card from Book Sense that lets you redeem it at any independent bookseller, but NOT at the big chains.

Still, I'm hopeful that we'll work out the details eventually. And maybe by next year, we'll all have realized that it's easier to simply donate trees or goats in another person's name. But one step at a time.