Express your madness and buy local at Christmas

With the decorations downtown and the hustle and bustle in the office to get ready for Country Christmas Madness, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas but it won’t feel like Christmastime until we get some snow.

Love it for the revered religious celebration that it is or hate it for the exercise in commercialism that it has become, Christmas is coming.

With the decorations downtown and the hustle and bustle in the office to get ready for Country Christmas Madness, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas but it won’t feel like Christmastime until we get some snow. A blanket of snow puts us in the Christmas mood.

Thank God it’s Christmas. Without the charity that manifests itself in Alberta communities at Christmastime, some agencies and their clients would go without the necessities this winter.

Many of our neighbours are still finding it tough to make ends meet. Costs for food, clothing, accommodation and travel can take their toll on a single mom’s paycheque, leaving very little for presents under the tree or a Christmas dinner. With the colder weather, needy families may have more emergent needs for such items as winter clothing, medication or vaccinations, and they may be in danger of foreclosure or eviction.

Without your generosity, many people in our communities who are enduring emotional, physical or economic hardship would not be able to enjoy the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. Christmas is as much about helping the down trodden as it is about buying cell phones hawked by annoying critters.

There is no special season for charity but if the desire to support charities doesn’t inspire you during the rest of the year, take the time now to help out at Christmas; it could be as simple as dropping a loonie into a Santa’s Anonymous cash box, volunteering at a Christmas dinner for the poor, or donating canned goods to the food bank. Help ease their burden and restore some dignity to your neighbours this Christmas.

Go mad on Friday night: take in the spectacle of the tree lighting ceremony, be oohed and ahhed by the fireworks, and shop for bargains throughout the business community. Support our merchants and shop locally for Christmas.

The growth of our local economy doesn’t just happen — it’s driven by small busi- nesses and their patrons who have an incredible influence on success. From restaurants to fitness centres, from jewelry stores to your hometown newspaper, small businesses have a huge economic impact on our communities.

Small businesses and their owners are the backbone of our communities. Look around at the men and women who create wealth in your community; they’re also the leaders in our political, social and religious life.

Certainly the entrepreneurial spirit of these business owners is inspiring: they have an idea, a business plan and the drive to see their dream come true. With their ideas they are making our communities better places to live and work. They make our communities stand out from the cookie-cutter power centres that assault your sensibilities on your drive to the city.

Shopping locally this Christmas recycles your paycheque through the community. Local small businesses use local suppliers, pay rent to local landlords, advertise in community newspapers, and open accounts in our banks and credit unions to pay their bills and employees.

A dozen small businesses, offering a multitude of product and service choices, will do more for the community and competitive pricing than a couple of big box stores giving us the same product at inflated prices.

We need prosperous small businesses in our local economies. Without them, we lose our power to influence the decisions that affect our community.

The best way to ensure a healthy business environment, and therefore a growing commercial assessment base, is to support the growth of our local merchants. As Christmas consumers, we can help to grow local business by shopping locally, purchasing locally produced goods and services and patronizing businesses that support charities and community projects. Because small businesses employ our community movers and shakers, they’re more apt to support the ball team, arena expansion project or church supper than the big businesses we patronize in the city.

Look down Main Street. Does it look healthy to you? Are your shopping habits reducing the choices we have as consumers? When we decide to spend a dollar we need to consider the impact of our choices, if not for today, then for the future of our communities.

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