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Avoiding Holiday Distractions

by Jackie DeCarlo

Over the past few months, it has been especially gratifying to read the reflections of my colleagues about the role faith plays in their Fair Trade work.  I hope you have felt inspired and informed.  As I end my time as lead blogger, and in keeping with the approach of the holiday season, I thought I would offer some considerations about Fair Trade gift-giving in our lives. ~ Jackie DeCarlo

Part of my daily practice is to read from inspirational sources.  Currently I am revisiting Simple Abundance, a daybook I received as a gift about a decade ago.  A recent reflection included,

“At this time of year our conscious attention often turns to what we don’t have rather than what we do-and for a very good reason.  The season of non-stop shopping has arrived.  [After Thanksgiving] the race to get ready for the next round of holidays begins.  No sooner have we celebrated the season of plenty then, with the advent of the first official days of [holiday] shopping, we enter…frenetic weeks of looking, finding, buying, and ordering-but not for ourselves.  We feel overwhelmed by a season of lack….

Before we head to the mall, it would do our souls good to have a reality check, in the form, not only of counting our blessings, but of focusing on them.  Money is going to have to buy a lot in the next few weeks, but it can’t buy the gifts that count the most:  good health, a loving and supportive [relationship], healthy [children and loved ones], the fulfillment of creative expression, and inner peace.  We forget this, not because we’re ungrateful louts, but because we get distracted by the razzamatazz of real life.  Now is the time to remember….”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

The “razzamatazz” of this year makes me eager for the holidays to fly by so 2010 can get here. The illnesses of elderly relatives, the purchase of a new home and the resulting shift from an urban to suburban lifestyle, a global economic crisis impacting my day job and the Fair Trade movement I love-all are my own special type of 2009 distractions and reasons for dread as I look at my holiday list and check it twice.

Yet this week, I have received cheerful greetings from a friend with the World Food Program who narrowly escaped a kidnapping in Pakistan.  Another friend in Sudan has found his humanitarian service includes sleeping in tool sheds and having only a towel to provide warmth in the cool night air.

Definitely this is the time to count my blessings and to recommit myself to a season not just of making it through the shopping process.  I’ll start by offering a word of thanks to you the reader.  If you are visiting this site, you are probably already doing your best to make plenty of Fair Trade holiday purchases.  You are building a just marketplace gift by gift.  You’ll probably even offer educational pointers on economic justice to relatives and friends while they unwrap your offerings.   You do so because you remember that across the world there are many who don’t have good health, love and companionship, freedom, peace.  You are taking small actions in a big, complex world to alter that reality for others.  Fair Traders like you make shopping worth a lot of focus.  Thank you and happy holy days.

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