Monday, November 25, 2013

How do I navigate a Fair Trade Christmas? (Besides knitting, I mean.)

On Saturday morning, at 7:27 am, my daughter said, "Mom?  This entire day is off-limits for blogging."

I can not tell you how much that cramped my style.  I could have written an excellent blog post about Saturday.  At 7:27 am, it was already taking place in my head.

This is going to be a strange week.  It's not as though I didn't realize it was November, but yet Thanksgiving Week has come as something of a surprise.  Yesterday I was shocked to see that it was already the feast of Christ The King, ie., the last Sunday of the Catholic liturgical year.  Ie, the first Sunday of Advent is next Sunday

Today I have an empty schedule.  I drove my daughter to school.  (We live in the county, and she attends the city high school.  Therefore, no buses.  And my husband had surgeries scheduled and left at 6:17 am.)  I'll pick her up at 2:30.  I don't need to fuss too much about cleaning the house, because we're going to our mountain place for Thanksgiving and our family is meeting us there.  I don't need to go to the grocery--I'm picking up our organic free-range never-frozen turkey at Earth Fare in Johnson City tomorrow morning, along with what I'm sure will end up being a cartful of happy organic specialty items, and cheese, and then I'll do a big shop in Linville for potatoes and such.  I'm doing laundry, but I always do laundry on Mondays.  I'll have a whale of a lot of barn chores, because we're expecting freezing rain and all the horses will have to be snugged inside the barn, but I'll wait until my daughter's home to help me.  I'll write, sure.  The new novel--a sequel to my "England" book, which is now (still tentatively) titled The War That Saved My Life, but which still doesn't have a release date--is nicely underway, but since I know I won't be writing at all from tomorrow until next Monday, it's difficult to find a lot of momentum.  I have some articles to write.  I could iron. 

Mostly, though, I'm thinking about Christmas.  I've bought some gifts and planned others, and have a nice pile of knitting.  (Oooh, the yarn store!  Inconveniently closed yesterday, when I first realized I did not have a specific color and weight of yarn in my stash.  I must go to the yarn store.  It's always a bit perilous--those wool fumes can completely intoxicate a person--but yet, I have my duty to fulfill. 

There are rules regarding the gifting of handknits.   The rule widely felt to be most important is that you never knit a sweater for a boyfriend until you are engaged.  I didn't know that one back when I broke it, but it hasn't seemed to hamper our relationship--we've been married 24 years.  (I think he still has the sweater.  I'm not sure he's ever worn it.)  You can give handknits once to anyone you please; however, no recipient is ever required to be rapturous about receiving a handknit.  At the same time, anyone who does not sincerely appreciate a handknit can be struck off the handknit gift list without guilt or reproach.  Handknits are simply not for everyone. 

I'm trying to think hard about my other giving, too.  I'd like to be Fair Trade and responsible.  I really don't need cheap t-shirts that require the slave labor of children.  But I'm having trouble deciding which companies are more or less ethical than others.  I can find loads of "Eco-Gifts"--recycled Christmas ornaments from Haiti, bracelets made in Africa, ugly loose-fitting clothing made from the scraps of saris.  That's all good.  But what about golf balls?  Bras?  Blue jeans?  Stylish boots?  Are there ethically-produced clothes that don't make you look like you live in a yurt?  I can buy organic coffee, but I'm at a loss when it comes to an ethically-produced espresso machine.

Anyone want to help me out?  Anyone know what to do?