Thursday, December 14, 2006

give a pig or polar bear this year

There are few things that make me so grumpy or tire me so quickly as shopping. Especially in a mall. Especially in December. If I was to decide to live off the land in some remote cabin, it wouldn't be as much about preserving nature as it would be fleeing big box stores and giant parking lots.

But what is tolerable for 11 months of the year now becomes unbearable. The endless christmas pop bopping distractedly in every store, interrupted for customer announcements or price checks... the crowds of impatient shoppers... the line-ups... the sticky hot feeling of sweat forming on your back when you have three layers of winter clothes on because it is -20 outside but tropically warm in the store...

In case there are any of you out there who share even partially my aversion to all things mall-like in December, but have some people in their lives they would like to give presents to, I have found some solutions you make like.

What's great about these is not only do you avoid the malls (your purchases are mailed right to you or to the recipient), but these are extra warm and fuzzy gifts since they do good things besides just making someone happy.

For example, check out Gifts that Matter, of Plan's Gifts of Hope , both of which suggest things you can buy on behalf some someone to benefit communities around the world - things like seeds for Vietnam or Zimbabwe, a goat for a family in Zambia, or a bee-keeping kit for people in Egypt. These gifts usually come with a certificate and card that you can give to someone - perfect for the person who has everything.

But if you still want a little something to give besides the feel-good of a good cause, World Wildlife Federation has the cutest stuffed toys that you get when you adopt an animal. My mum gave us a panda last year who sits on the bookshelf in the bedroom. The year before I had given her a surprisingly docile and floppy Bengal tiger.

Of course, there are always the on-line stores I have resorted to when looking for that hard-to-find book or cd, and there I can avoid the malls and line-ups too, but this year, since so many of the special people in my life are also scaling back from the consumerism of the season, I'm giving education and livestock. And buying these has made me neither grumpy or tired, in fact I feel pretty good. Rather unusual for a post-shopping trip.

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