Best Deals for the Season

By Bob McGill, Migrant Advocate

Legal Aid of Western Missouri


A very happy Advent!

At last begins the season of renewal and expectation, return and change. Keeping these short, dark days holy is our deep, old human habit. We don’t feast arbitrarily or carelessly, but naturally tend toward and need a full experience of the annual axis.

The force of seasons, our adaptation to this way of living through time and environment, reveals the aberrance of the brief Christmas Shopping Season; of cybersales, product parades, and cold, dark ‘Black Friday’ morning. We are much, much older and heartier than our passing experiment with store-bought, mail-order renewal. Advent’s heavy pendulum begins its backswing and picks up speed.

Old traditions are new again. ‘Quality’ is the new quantity. ‘Handmade’ is the new gadget. ‘Peace’ is the new toy mêlée. ‘People’ are the new TV special. ‘Fairness and right’ are the new superdoorbuster price. If you missed the YahooNews reports on it, this is the surprising way fashionable people do Holidays 2010 (2011, 12, and on):

We’re celebrating the whole season, First of Advent on through Epiphany. Somehow we enjoy increased returns of holiday excitement—rather than a sense of rationing—when the observance happens every waking moment for a month rather than the quick, heated unwrapping fits during the few hours when some stores have closed.

We’re celebrating ‘Christmas past’, recalling the times that merited the name ‘holiday’, revisiting the people that made those holidays for us, mining their creative qualities, and fittingly reproducing them. This is our return.

We’re celebrating ‘Christmas future’. This is our expectation and change. If the recent chain of Christmases-in-a-box cut us off from merry Advents past, it has also given us the ability and responsibility to initiate new traditions and new stories.

More specifically, the surprising way faithful people do Holidays 2010’, as recommended by Children and Family Minister, Denise Dugan and Pastor Holly McKissick at Saint Andrew Christian Church in Olathe include:

  • ‘Reflect on the traditions, gatherings, foods, gifts, and outings that have meant the most to you over the years.’
  • ‘Identify the mental, financial and physical stresses that stretch you and wear you out.’
  • ‘Set a spending limit.’ And, ‘consider gifts of your time or charitable donations rather than purchasing unnecessary items that simply add to the excess clutter of our lives.’
  • ‘Slow down.’ ‘Attend worship; light advent candles; sing carols; pray.’

More specifically yet, a seasonal ad that you will not find in your Sunday paper insert:

Join the Migrant Farmworkers Project on Sunday afternoon, December 5th at Ten Thousand Villages in Overland Park for a benefit shopping day. A portion of all sales made at the store between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. will be donated to MFP. Your purchase of fair trade home décor, jewelry, and gifts made by artisans in developing countries will benefit families around the world, including Missouri’s migrant and seasonal farmworkers and your family.

Don’t camp out the night before. There will be no superdoorbuster-blowoutextravaganza-limiteightpercustomer-sorrynorainchecks prices. There will be no grabbing, pushing, elbowing or cross looks. There will be no hot new gadgets for 2011. And no one will depend on your purchase to float the global free market economy for a few more months. Our joy at seeing you again runs deeper than that.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer.  They create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term fair trading relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.  To learn more, visit

Fair Trade is about fair prices.  It’s about eliminating exploitative middlemen and sharing more of a product’s value with the people who made it.  Fair Trade is about being good stewards of the planet God gave us. And it can be a lot more.  Fair Trade contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.  U.S. persons of good have a special role to play in making trade fair and sustainable.  Readers (and shoppers) are encouraged to be in solidarity with artisans and farmers around the world.  To learn more about additional sources for fair trade products, visit the links below.

The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is the trade association that strengthens and promotes North American organizations fully committed to fair trade. The Federation is part of the global fair trade movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty.  Sources, including retail stores, in and beyond the Kansas City metropolitan area can be found here,

World’s Window, located in the Kansas City Brookside neighborhood, is a privately-owned retail store. Ever since the store opened in 1984, the owners have searched for the best in ethnic and contemporary folk art, clothing, and jewelry. They strive to purchase merchandise from fair trade organizations and from wholesalers invested in enhancing the lives of those who work with and for them. To learn more, visit

In Catholic Relief Services’ Fair Trade program, the idea of Fair Trade is a partnership between producers and consumers.  Visit to learn more and to learn about their special fair trade program and catalog, “Work of Human Hands.”




1 Comment »

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