As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide us with monstrous piles of cheaply made goods, produced at the expense of American labor because it's also cheaply priced. For anyone still looking for gifts to give, how about considering these alternatives:
Think outside the box. Everyone needs a haircut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It's right for anyone thinking about daily health improvement. Or pack a box of healthy goodies from your local food shop.
Who wouldn't be pleased to have the family car cleaned inside and out? Do it yourself, or get a gift certificate from a garage or car wash for a once-over.
How many people do you know whose car, truck or motorcycle could use an oil change - another surprising gift source there. It's the surprise element, along with a gift that's needed, that makes this a win/win situation.
How about seasonal plans for friend or neighbor? A driveway sealed, a lawn mowed next summer? Or plowed during the winter? Or games at the golf course, bowling alley, etc.?
We have many fine restaurants just waiting for customers to arrive with gift certificates for at least one good meal, something that could just as easily satisfy one or many, for brunch or dinner. You might even opt to join in and make it a nice, warm, friendly feast.
Would mom appreciate the services of a local cleaning person for a day or more?
Indoor plants - home grown or store purchased?
Computers sooner or later will need a tune-up. There are plenty of specialists just waiting to service electronic merchandise.
Want something more personal? How about visiting the many art galleries and gift shops featuring local crafts, many items made from indigenous materials, like locally spun wool, jewelry from natural sources, pottery, and even wood workings for kitchen or to hang on the wall as decorations?
Do you have a creative bent - in sewing, photographing, painting, sculpting? Give a personal gift that's one of a kind.
Musicians and thespians call for another great idea. How about purchasing tickets to local concerts, dance recitals, or plays? Call early to get the best seats.
Leave a nice practical gift for the mailman, trash guy, or babysitter; there's always need for more than a tip as being still more in the spirit of the season.
MEANWHILE, 'tis the season to rejoice and really be thankful for the little things in your life:
Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful for the difficult times, when the smallest, unexpected things become more important than those on which you spend muchos dolares. Those other things might be expensive and awesome, but they usually last only for short term enjoyment.
Be thankful for your limitations because they give you opportunities to grow.
Be thankful for each new challenge because it will build your strength and the character that is lost in hours spent on the latest electronic gadgets.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary; it means you've made a difference.
AND LASTLY, Archie pounded out this posting for all of us to appreciate:
"I have a list of people I know, Boss, all written in a book. And every year at Christmastime I go and take a look. And that's when I realize that those names have become a part of a small cockroach's heart. Each name stands for someone who has crossed my path, and in that meeting has become a treasured friend. You, too, of course, Boss.
"So when I send this Christmas posting, it's because you're on that list of folks I'm indebted to. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and all our friends - and those I hope to count as friends in times to come. Your friend forever, Archie."
Rotten Tomatoes averages: "Hugo," A; "New Year's Eve," D