The Mountain Times

°F Mon, April 21, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Smiling while you shop?

As the few days before Christmas slip by - family is coming, there are meals to prepare and presents yet to buy - remember to relax and enjoy the rich traditions of this holiday season that make it so worthwhile.

The holiday focus in Killington - as in Rutland, Woodstock and Brandon - is about community festivals, contributing to several wonderful community causes, listening to chorus groups ring in the season with bells and beautiful voices, and for many it is a season for worship and reflection.

And partly it's about shopping locally, where you'll greet friends and neighbors on Main Street as well as patronize those stores and businesses that cater to all of our needs year around.

I am not a competitive shopper. I can hardly imagine anything less enjoyable than driving a hour or more to a Wal-Mart, Costco, Best Buy or any other big-box store early in the morning and pushing past scores of people I don't know in sterile warehouse of discounted stuff in which the idea is to shop hurriedly so you can get back home to enjoy what's left of the day.

It's worth pondering how our society has transformed itself from what was a peaceful, heartfelt holiday to today's national obsession for discounted goods. And while shopping online is less hectic than battling the mobs at malls and discount stores, the sterile experience is the opposite of what shopping locally is all about.

Fortunately, a more peaceful, joyous season is still found in our hometowns where we know each other and can appreciate the services and goods provided.

I like buying merchandise from people I know. Call me old-fashioned, but I like the 'please and thank-you' that are part of the pleasantries exchanged as gifts are wrapped, hot cider is sipped and casual conversation is enjoyed.

As you make final preparations this holiday season, shop locally because it's good for the economic stability of local businesses- businesses who contribute to the Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs, high school sports teams and local elementary school programs, 4-H and the FFA, and local blood drives, local churches, and the high school yearbook and drama programs, and …so many other worthwhile causes.

Shop locally for all of the compelling reasons to do so, but above all, shop locally for your own enjoyment.

Take the time to slow down; to have a cup of coffee or lunch at a local restaurant, deli or coffee shop; to say hello to friends; to search in specialty shops for that unique gift; to stand on main street, or gaze at the mountains, and think about what a great community you live in. 

Find carolers and join in; go to a holiday concert, buy the kids a hot chocolate or hot apple cider; offer a word of thanks to the store employees who helped with your gifts and listen for their appreciative response.

And don't be surprised if you find yourself smiling while you shop this holiday season. Yes, shop local. It's good for the soul.