No. 852



When you buy Christmas gifts, or gifts for other special occasions, do you ever get sick and tired of seeing labels that say “made in China” or some other foreign country? If you do, you are not alone, and some creative person came up with a unique solution to this dilemma that will benefit a lot of your fellow citizens and may even save you some money. As you may know, for the past several years our trade deficit has been growing, which is to say we have been importing a lot more goods from other countries than we have been exporting. This means that their economies are helped while ours suffers. The result is a lower standard of living for American citizens.
I am indebted to a loyal reader, Holly Baxter, who lives in Forrest City, Ark., and who shared this idea. She reads my column in the Times-Herald, where it has run since August 1996. Here is the gist of the idea. Instead of buying foreign-made products, Americans can give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. Rather than complaining that there is nothing to be found that is produced by American hands, you can find out that, yes, there is. And after reading this, I believe you will agree. It is time to think outside the box, and instead of buying a gift that needs to fit in a shirt box with Chinese-produced wrapping paper, consider these alternatives.
How about buying that special person a gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement. Who would not appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American-owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or book of gift certificates. Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down a pile of George Washingtons on a Chinese-made flat screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like to have his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at a local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants all offering gift certificates, and if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half-dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint? Remember, this is not about big national chains. This is about supporting your home-town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open. How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy? How about a heart-felt gift for mom? Mom would love the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
There is no limit to the number of things we can do for other people, and because most gifts of this nature are out of the ordinary, you will be a hit because you were so thoughtful. While I am sure you have gotten the idea a long time ago, I’ll give you just a few more, as one or two may be something you have not thought about before. Let’s say you are looking for something a little more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love, too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Well, I am about out of space, but I believe you will agree that this is really thinking outside the box and I am grateful that Holly cared enough to pass it along.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)