To Make My Christmas Shopping Reflect a Revolution of the Heart

As Christians prepare for the First Sunday of Advent, we also are heading into the Christmas shopping season. It’s important we consider where our dollars are going. My friend Judy and I had the opportunity the other night to attend a Fair Trade Christmas Sale sponsored by the Diocese of Metuchen. The diocese didn’t charge a dime to the fledgling entrepreneurs from the Intersect Fund who had set up tables at the fair. Judy and I were both delighted to buy handmade bracelets created by Zakiyia Forbes, (pictured here) the homeschooling mother of two young children. Buying local and supporting fair trade are trendy ideas. And these ideas also have a long, noble history in the Church.

Disclaimer here: most of the food and clothing our family buys comes from big-box stores and national chains. I am prayerfully reconsidering  that and deliberately seeking some alternatives. For Thanksgiving, we bought our pies from a family farm I frequent on my commute home from work. And the wine we served came from a family-owned store in our town. For years, we have tried to nurture an understanding in our sons that Christmas is not about stuff, but about celebrating the birth of Our Savior. Dear readers: How do you shop? Do you have ideas or websites to share?

As we buy gifts for our loved ones, let’s consider doing so in a socially conscious manner. Buy gifts that were produced without child or slave labor. Catholic teaching demands we do.

More than a century ago in what many consider the most fruitful and effective principle of industrial justice,  Pope Leo XIII told us: “The chief and most excellent rule for the right use of money is one the heathen philosophers hinted at, but which the Church has traced out clearly, and has not only made known to men’s minds, but has impressed upon their lives. It rests on the principle that it is one thing to have a right to the possession of money and another to have a right to use money as one wills.”

The St. Vincent Pallotti Center has a wonderful page on their web listing websites you can check out. I love the Dorothy Day quote they include on their website. “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each of us.”

So please, share ideas for shopping in a socially conscious way. How do you shop so that Christ remains the center of the celebration?

  • Anonymous

    I was watching the news today and saw that there is a push by some to make Saturday, "Shop Local Saturday"–sandwiched between Black Friday and so called CyberMonday. Supporting our small business in our borough and towns is another great alternative…more taxes and jobs remain in town and we get the benefit of usually getting excellent customer service and a thriving downtown.

  • Allison

    Great point Anon 11:36!

  • priest’s wife
  • Sarah Harkins

    My mom is the best at doing this. She's always supporting the local stores instead of going for the cheaper groceries at the bigger chains- and she is the Fair Trade Queen! Great tips, Allison! I know Victoria's Secret uses slave labor, but other than than, do you know of any brands/stores to stay away from?

  • Allison

    Sarah: I am new to this. But Priest's Wife (see posting about yours) has a stunning piece on why NOT to buy Chinese-made Christmas lights.

  • pennyyak

    The minute I saw the title of this post on my widget, I knew you must be author, Allison!I have been thinking in years of late, what it might mean to be a Christian, in a holy season that is highly commercialized, outside of the confines of a church. And just for myself, it better mean something.Advent Conspiracy did not make a new video for 2010, so I can't give you a link, but there are so many choices of where to spread your money around responsibly (and still get some goodies for the little ones).As Anon. stated, I am more and more inclined to to shop locally – not to say I have no worries about the bottom line. But I know these people – by name. I can't say that about the mega-stores.Conscience-wise, I do worry about some of things I buy. Thank for the post – a good reminder to do what we can – Penny

  • Jennifer

    We try to buy or make a lot of handmade items for the holidays. Outside of Christmas and gift giving, we also keep thrift stores as early stops in our shopping plans. Especially for clothing ~ somethings are always going to be imported, but by buying used we can make sure that our dollars stay local.

  • Billy Atwell

    I'm also a big fan of buying not only from fair trade and labor organizations, but also (whenever we can) from local organizations and stores. The more we give money and resource to large conglomerates the less we empower the average person to live their dream by owning and managing their own business. There is also economic risk in leaving so much power in the hands of a few.Great post!