Rethinking Christmas Shopping

There was a time when my husband and I did all our Christmas shopping in one or two marathon, feet-killing days. We’d head off early to a mall, usually Ala Moana, and spend the entire day there, with our list and our walking shoes and our youthful stamina. We didn’t mind it at all. In fact, we were full of Christmas cheer.

Those were wonderful days. When our son came along, it was a bit more challenging pushing him around in a stroller, but we did it. By the end of the day the stroller was laden with bags and boxes and cute sleeping baby.

It was fun.

Then, somehow, we lost our way. I started doing all or most of our Christmas gift shopping online. It was so easy! Free shipping! Point and click! No crowds, no muss, no fuss!

No fun.

After a few years of that, I saw the light and came back around, back to basics. For the past few Christmases, I’ve been shopping strictly local. I patronize local brick-and-mortar shops, and the online sites I buy from benefit

Hawaii artists, craftsmen and businesses.

Maybe it’s because I know of so many talented artists and artisans, and I want to acknowledge their contributions and efforts.

I’ve recently dipped a small toe into the swirling waters of e-commerce and all I can say is, whew. It’s hard work, no matter how small the enterprise. It’s given me an even greater appreciation for the entrepreneurs and small-business owners I know. They have to be among the most optimistic and brave people I’ve met. I want to support them. I want them to survive, thrive and succeed.

Christmas is such a commercial behemoth that it’s important, I think, to dig beneath the glitter, and there — under the mountains of boxes and gift cards and dollars spent — find the giving, beating heart of the holiday.

I’ve come to believe the way to find true meaning is to go small, not big. Buying local for thoughtful gifts is one way.

Making gifts is another.

Every December, I receive a box in the mail from a dear friend. I see her name and smile. I show it to my husband and he smiles. I tear into the box to find the best shortbread cookies ever made anywhere on the planet at any time in the history of cookie making. I’m not exaggerating. This has been going on for many, many years.

This year, I had something I made myself to give back. I must say, it feels really good.

It’s not about dollars.

Be stress-free this year. Don’t try to impress, unless you’re impressing with love.

Put the Happy back in the Holidays.