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That said, I try as much as possible to think about what I am buying and to find products that are made locally, produced by Americans or under fair-trade conditions. Clearly, I am not a purist about this; heck the MacBook I am writing this on was made in China. Still, the recent factory fire in Bangladesh, where 112 workers were killed, served as a sobering reminder that my purchases are moral choices.
Bottom line: As humans celebrating the birth of our Savior, we ought to think about the conditions under which the people who make the gifts we give our loved ones are living. In an article titled "Six ways to be a conscientious Catholic consumer," author Thomas Beaudoin calls this "maturing economic spirituality."
Limiting the purchase Chinese-made Christmas products is leading me to people I would not have otherwise encountered. Here are two:
I discovered a company run by the Rutherford family of Colorado Springs called Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, which has as part of its "good faith guarantee" the commitment to not selling goods made in China. The holy water font we purchased took a while to get here, but that is because it was ordered directly from Italy. It is nice to shop and know I don't have to check the labels of everything I buy; the store has taken care of that for me.
My girlfriend Judy and I spent an hour or so tonight at a holiday bazaar hosted by the Intersect Fund, a New Brunswick, NJ-based nonprofit that helps low-income people start businesses. She and I sipped coffee and made the rounds of the various booths in a conference room at a fancy downtown hotel. I spent about $100 at the event, including on jars of "artisanal" jam.
Pictured at left is Kim Osterhoudt, who founded of Jams by Kim after she was laid off from a financial services job in 2009. I met her tonight and bought four jars of jam. One my family will enjoy Christmas morning. My mom and dad will receive the other three all natural jams: Blueberry and Lemon Jam, Peach Jam and Raspberry Jam. Ms. Osterhoudt even has nutritional labels on her jams so you know what's in them as well as the calorie counts. How sweet is that?
‘It is not beyond human ingenuity to find a way in which all peoples
can have a say in their own destiny." Pope Paul VI, Rome, Easter 1967